What is long-term care?
When a person requires someone else to help him with his physical or emotional needs over an extended period of time, this is long-term care. This help may be required for many of the activities or needs that healthy, active people take for granted and may include such things as:
What types of services does long-term care provide?
Long-term services can include:
- Home-based services — home health care, homemaker services, friendly visitor/companion services, and emergency response systems
- Community-based services — adult day service programs, senior centers, transportation services, meals programs, and respite care
- Facility-based care — adult foster care, board and care homes, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and continuing care retirement communities
How long does long-term care last?
Long-term care can last a short time or a long time. Short-term care lasts several weeks or a few months while someone is recovering from a sudden illness or injury. For example, a person may get short-term rehabilitation therapy at a nursing facility after hip surgery, then go home.
Long-term care can also be ongoing, as with someone who is severely disabled from a stroke or who has Alzheimer's disease. Many people can remain at home if they have help from family and friends or paid services. But some people move permanently to a nursing home or other type of facility if their needs can no longer be met at home.
What does "out of pocket" mean?
"Out of pocket" means using personal funds. In the case of long-term care, many services are paid for out of pocket, at least in the beginning. Personal funds may include personal savings, a pension or other retirement fund, income from stocks and bonds, or proceeds from the sale of a home.
What kind of options are available to pay for long-term care?
Most people don't have enough money to pay for all long-term care costs on their own, especially ongoing or expensive services like a nursing home. Often, they rely on a combination of resources to pay for care. These may include:
- personal funds
- government health insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid
- private health insurance plans
- private financing options, such as long-term care insurance, life insurance policies, and reverse mortgages.
What long-term care costs does Medicaid cover?
Medicaid pays for health care services for people with limited income, and it is an important source of payment for long-term care services. Personal care, home health care, adult day care, and nursing home care are examples of the types of Medicaid-covered services used by older adults. However, Medicaid is not available to everyone. To be eligible, you must meet certain financial and health requirements. People with financial resources above a certain limit will most likely not qualify unless they first use up their own resources to pay for care, which is called "spending down." Who is eligible and what services are covered vary from state to state.