At some point in our lives, most of us will need assistance with daily activities like dressing, bathing, driving, and cooking. Long-term care involves a variety of services designed to meet a person's health or personal care needs. Ideally, these services enable you to live as independently and safely as possible when you can no longer perform daily activities on your own. Planning for the care you’ll need is important, but it can be very difficult to figure out what is covered by insurance and/or Medicare, as well as what services you might need.
Long-term care is a very broad category of services that may include both personal care (bathing, taking medication, dressing, using the bathroom, eating, moving around, etc.) and community services (meals, transportation, day care, nursing homes, etc.). Long-term care needs may arise suddenly, such as after a stroke, or may be the result of a slow progression as a person gets older.
There are several risk factors that may increase the likelihood you’ll need long-term care:
Age: The older you are, the more likely you are to need long-term care services.
Sex: Women often live longer and so are at a higher risk of needing care.
Marital status: Single/widowed individuals are more likely to need care from a paid provider.
Lifestyle: Unhealthy lifestyle choices (diet, exercise, etc.) can increase your risk.
Current health/family history: This can also increase or decrease your personal risk.
The best time to think about long-term care is before you need it. Planning for the possibility of long-term care gives you time to learn about services in your area, budget for costs, and make important decisions while you still can. Click here to learn more about the Washington State Long Term Care Trust Act, a first-of-its-kind program that institutes compulsory short-term care benefit is going into effect soon in our state.
There’s a lot to learn about long-term care, and the above is just the tip of the iceberg.