Long term care is defined as needing assistance with at least two of the following activities of daily living: bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, transferring and continence. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia will also require long term care. It also important to note that long term care is not just defined by residence in a nursing home. In home health care, assisted living and independent living are other options for long term care – providing seniors with choices about the type of care they wish to receive.
Unfortunately, many Americans simply count on Medicare to provide for this care. Medicare however will only provide temporary skilled care coverage for a maximum benefit of 100 days. Medicare does not cover chronic conditions such as dementia.
Combined with Medicare’s limitations is that stark reality that many seniors face. Research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 70% of Americans over the age of 65 will require long term care, 40% will require nursing home care and 20% of today’s 65 year olds will require care for at least 5 years. Research from the Alzheimer’s Association adds to the harshness of reality; nearly half of Americans age 85 and older has Alzheimer’s disease and care for dementia can be required for as long as 20 years.
These statistics make it clear that, for most Americans, Medicare will not be enough. This is why it is important to plan ahead and look into other ways to pay for long term care. Meet with a qualified elder law attorney to discuss your options.