Definition of Long-Term Care

Long-term care is the care required by a person with a long physical illness, a disability or a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer�s disease that is in addition to the traditional medical care required by that person. Long-term care is intended to help a person live as he or she is now, rather than trying to improve or correct medical problems. Long-term care takes the following forms:

Activities of Daily Living - ADL�s

Personal care is simpler than skilled care, and it may be given in a variety of settings.
Settings where Long-term Care Might be Provided
Adult Day Care: Sites that provide personal and skilled care, as will as recreational services
Assisted Living Facilities: Living quarters that provide levels of personal care dependent of the individual needs of the residents
Facility Care Services: Specialized care provided by licensed agencies in areas such as physical, occupational or speech therapy
Nursing Facilities: Residential facility for persons who need daily medical care
Hospice: Facility to help alleviate the physical, emotional, social and spiritual discomforts for those in the last phases of life due to terminal illness

Cost of Long-term Care

Long-term care in a nursing home averages approximately $50,000 per year. Care in an assisted living facility varies greatly depending on the level of care required. At the low end, the cost is slightly more than an apartment rental, whereas the addition of services can cause the cost to skyrocket. The cost of home health services is based on the level of service and frequency of the visits. A visit from a nurse 3 times a week for a year would cost in the range of $20,000, while 3 weekly visits from a home health aide would cost roughly half that amount.

Funding for Long-term Care

The sources you look to for short-term, acute care typically do not cover long-term care.
Private Health Insurance typically has a very limited benefit for skilled nursing care, providing coverage up for period up to 30 or 60 days.
Medicare provides limited coverage for skilled care after a hospital stay of at least 3 days. Medicare provides no coverage for custodial care.
Medicare Supplement Insurance is intended to pay for gaps in Medicare coverage, but does not extend to long-term care costs.
Medicaid does cover long-term care, however, Medicaid is essentially a welfare type program. The covered individual can have no significant personal assets and loses much control over healthcare decisions. Most services are provided in a nursing home rather than in a residential setting.
Personal Resources pay much of the cost of long-term care. Funds come from savings and investments, as well as from the sale of one�s home.
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