What is Long Term Care?

Long term care (LTC) refers to a variety of services designed to help people perform the functions of day-to-day living to help them remain as independent as possible. Long term care is aimed at providing help with activities of daily living or a severe cognitive impairment such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease. Some long term care services follow a period of rehabilitation for people who continue to require assistance to perform daily activities.

This need for care from others may be caused by accident, illness, dementia, stroke, depression or frailty. Personal needs may include help to move about, dress, bathe, eat, use a toilet, medicate and avoid incontinence. Also help may be needed with household cleaning, preparing meals, shopping, paying bills, visiting the doctor, answering the phone and taking medications properly. In other cases long-term care may consist of providing supervision, companionship or support for loved ones.

Long term care can be offered at home or in an institution. Care recipients prefer to stay at home and most of the time family and friends providing that care, prefer the home as well. But the deciding factor of where to receive help ultimately centers on the intensity and amount of services needed for support. For example, a wife caring for her overweight husband may be unable to help him bathe, dress, use the toilet or even transfer from the bed to a chair. She will either have to hire aides to come to the home or put him in an institution. Another example might be an Alzheimer’s patient who has become unmanageable and must receive constant supervision.

By 2020, 12 million older Americans will need long-term care. It is anticipated that most will be cared for at home; family and friends are the sole caregivers for 70 percent of the elderly.

Long term care insurance can help make sure you have the financial resources to cover these costs, which can be steep. LTCI will help you maintain your financial freedom and give you the flexibility to participate in making choices that impact your daily living — about the services you receive, where you receive them and who provides the care you need. Long term care insurance provides a means to protect your assets from unexpected medical costs.