What is Long Term Care?

One of the biggest misperceptions around senior healthcare coverage is that Medicare will help you with Long Term Care costs.

Medicare does not touch Long Term Care.
Medicare Supplement plans do not touch Long term care.
Medicare Advantage plans do not touch long term care.

Fortunately, you have options around how to protect yourself against the high costs of Long Term Care.

What is Long Term Care?

Long-term care includes several different types of care designed to help you with your health or personal needs during both short and long periods of time. 

Long Term Care services help you live as independently and safely as possible, when you can no longer perform everyday activities on your own.

Most long-term care isn’t actually medical care. Instead, MOST long-term care helps people who are struggling with the six Activities of Daily Living, or ADL’s.

Activities of Daily Living

The six Activities of Daily Living are Continence, Toileting, Transferring, Bathing, Dressing, and Feeding.

A healthy person can do each of these without physical assistance. However, someone who needs help with 2 or more of these activities, for longer than 90 days, now requires long-term custodial care.

Long Term Care isn’t an aging thing

It is important to understand that Long-Term Care is not an ‘aging’ thing, even though that’s usually what we think of when we hear long-term care. ANYONE, at any age, and for any number of reasons, can require long-term care, such as someone who has suffered an accident and needs help with two of the six activities that we mentioned.

Other common issues can also create the need for long-term care, like Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, cancer, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic issues. 

It Won’t Happen to Me
One of the most common reasons people in general do not actively engage in the long-term care planning process is simply because we, as humans, think we won’t need it. 

We tend to view long-term care planning as a conversation about risk and, “it won’t happen to me.”

But this isn’t just a conversation about risk, it’s a conversation about consequences.

Often people (typically men!) will say something along the lines of, “I’ve told my family that if I ever need care to just throw me out in the backyard.” 

We all have a nice little chuckle, but the reality is when we need care, someone, somewhere is going to spend time, money, and emotional resources to provide our care.

No one is just throwing us out in the backyard.

You may recall from a couple paragraphs up that long term care, by definition, has nothing to do with aging; anyone who cannot perform two or more of the six activities of daily living – for whatever reason – without physical assistance, requires long-term care, including those whose life has been affected by an accident at whatever age.

Different settings, different people

Long-term care is provided in different places by different caregivers, depending on a person’s needs and resources. 

Most long-term care is provided at home by untrained, unpaid family members and friends. Some care is provided by trained, paid healthcare workers that come to the home of the person needing care. Care can also be given in a facility such as a nursing home or in the community, for example, in an adult day care center.

Long Term Care is not Skilled Nursing Care

Sometimes there is confusion with the phrases ’skilled nursing care’ or ’skilled nursing facility.’ This type of care is what we refer to as ‘recovery care’; or care that is provided for a specific medical reason. It is temporary and provided only until the patient recovers fully or plateaus in their recovery. Think, a knee surgery and a person is in rehab to get better. 

This is not the same as a nursing home. 

Skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes are two different things.

Medicare does pay for recovery care, even in a skilled nursing facility where temporary recovery therapy is provided, but Medicare does not pay for long-term custodial care in a nursing home. 

Long Term Care decisions involve choices around both the place that you or a loved one will receive care as well as who will be providing that care – you, an unpaid or untrained family member, or a paid, trained healthcare worker. 

Four Major Questions Around Long Term Care

Now, there are four major questions you need to answer in regards to Long Term Care, and we go over those in the next video.

Long Term Care – Step 1