Long-Term Care from A to Z – Part 1
Raise your hands if you know everything there is to know about Long-Term Care. (Hmmm, no hands raised for that one). How about a show of hands for those of you who know something, but might need a refresher? (OK, I see a few hands now). How about those who know very little (or for the very honest, none at all) and want to learn? (Now that’s more like it…a stadium wave).
Our subject is Long-Term Care. It is what people don’t talk about the most. It is the invisible elephant in the room, ignored, yet hugely important. It’s very natural to avoid talking about things that are uncomfortable – like getting old and needing care, and how to pay for it. The goal of this series of posts is to promote understanding and multiple dialogues. Hopefully, there will be numerous “Oh, my goodness” and “Wow, I didn’t know that” moments. Ultimately, the reader will, if the writer is successful, come to appreciate the need for a plan for when (rather than if) the time comes, and will take action to protect themselves and their family.
Let’s begin with a very basic question. What is Long-Term Care? At its core, Long-Term Care (for economy I’ll use the letters “LTC”) is the ongoing care provided to someone who needs help with basic day to day “activities of daily living” such as bathing, toileting, dressing and such. Notice that I did not mention nursing homes or old people. That’s because, despite the frequent misconception that LTC is only provided to seniors in nursing homes, this is far from the case. In fact, according to some studies, over 65% of LTC is provided outside of a nursing home setting, and over 40% of people currently receiving care are ages 18 to 64.
LTC is called “custodial care”. This is to distinguish it from clinical or rehabilitative care provided by a medical practitioner. The importance of custodial care will come up again when we talk about how it’s paid for. LTC involves assistance, either hands-on or stand-by. It is usually needed because of a physical infirmity. The infirmity may result from a medical event such as a stroke, a condition such as Parkinson’s disease, or may simply be due to frailty associated with old age. Let’s face reality: if we’re lucky and don’t die, we live a long life and get old. More and more of us are getting lucky. Seniors age 65+ represents the fastest growing segment of our population. Over 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 each day. When we get old (SPOILER ALERT) eventually we need care.
In out next segment, we will address another reason people may need care…Alzheimer’s Disease. Stay tuned.