What is Long-Term Care

And do you need it?

Long-term care is a blanket term for a variety of health care services for people who need assistance performing activities of daily living (ADLs). Despite its name, some people actually stay for short periods in long-term care facilities— as sometimes long-term care is needed to recuperate from an illness, heart attack, or stroke.

To learn more about what long-term care services include, where to find long-term care, and factors to consider as you search for long-term medical care, read on.


Long-term care services meet the personal care needs of older adults, those with chronic conditions, and those requiring other support services.

The most common type of long-term care service is assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) or with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). If you or your loved one require assistance with the following on a regular basis, long-term care may be an excellent option.

  • Bathing
  • Grooming and hygiene
  • Toileting
  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Moving around the house
  • Managing medication
  • Managing money
  • Shopping
  • Cooking
  • Mobility out of the home

Long-term care can also include transportation services, caring for pets, housekeeping, and more.

Long-Term Care Options

Long-term care often happens in individual homes performed by loved ones for free. However, that’s not the only way to get quality long-term care. The following long-term care options can meet a variety of health care needs.

Home Health Care

While many people who need long-term care get assistance from family members in their own home or in their families’ homes, that’s not the only option.

You can also get long-term home care from a paid caregiver outside of the family. You can hire friends of the family for more informal, short-term care, or you can hire healthcare professionals—registered nurses, home health aides, and occupational therapists, for example—through home health care agencies.

Paid, professional caregivers will perform health care services and typically offer housekeeping services, companionship, and emergency assistance.

Community Support Services

If your or your loved one‘s care needs are more related to overall quality of life, there are many agencies and companies that offer community support services.

These include adult day care centers, which provide socialization, interaction, education, and fun activities to otherwise home-bound older adults.

There are many transportation services that help older adults get back out into their neighborhoods and be full members of society.

Some home care agencies offer services on an as-needed basis, perhaps depending on the day, week, or other period of time.

These services typically are a complement to fuller home health care from paid professionals or from family caregivers.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are a more comprehensive form of long-term health care. Nursing home care include medical care from health professionals like registered nurses as well as 24-hour supervision. Nursing homes are an ideal choice for an individual who needs round-the-clock, hands-on care that family caregivers often struggle to provide.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are another care facility option that offers varying levels of care, based on your or your loved one‘s care needs. These facilities also offer quality health services in a resort-style atmosphere, where residents have their own or shared rooms, eat three meals a day with other residents, and have a full schedule of activities.

Assisted living facilities or memory care facilities are the common choices for Alzheimer‘s and dementia patients who require more intensive and supervised care.

Many assisted living facilities offer the option to age in place, meaning as a long-term care patient’s needs change, the facility adjusts to their care needs, mitigating the need for them to move from facility to facility.

Factors to Consider

When choosing a long-term care option for you or your family member, there are a few factors to consider.

Level of Care

Some people are only interested in (or only require) very basic daily assistance, while others need help with nearly every aspect of their day. Truly consider where you or your loved one is at on this journey to find the level of care most appropriate for them.

Quality of Life

The cost of care might be the first thing you think of when researching long-term care, but consider, too, the quality of life that you or your loved one will experience with each option.

For instance, if you choose an assisted living facility, that obviously means moving to an entirely new home. If your loved one wants privacy, make sure there are individual rooms available. If your loved one is sentimental, ask about furnishing and decorating their room or apartment with their own belongings.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Make sure whichever care option you choose encompasses mental, emotional, and physical health all in one. This means warm, supportive companionship, a wide variety of activities, and mental health awareness.

Long-Term Care Costs

While there are certainly other important factors, paying for long-term care can affect whether or not you and your family will be able to obtain quality long-term care.

The costs of long-term care vary depending on the type of care, your caregiver, where you’re located, and where the care takes place (in home or in a facility, for instance).

There are several ways to cover the cost of care:

Long-term care insurance is a type of private insurance specifically designed to cover long-term care services. Long -term care insurance, as it’s often called, will reimburse a daily amount for services related to assistance with ADLs. You may not qualify for LTC insurance if you are in documented poor health or already receiving long-term care services.

Health insurance programs sometimes cover long-term care services. If your insurance does cover it, it’s typically only for skilled, short-term care that is medically necessary.

Medicare pays for health care for Americans 65 and older or those under 65 who receive disability benefits. While it does cover medically necessary care, it does not pay for custodial care or long-term care services unless: a) it is short-term care following a hospitalization, b) it is to treat a specific health condition, c) to prevent further health decline, or d) it is a form of hospice care.

Medicaid covers long-term care services in residences and nursing homes. However, Medicaid is for low income individuals only and benefits vary from state to state.

Life insurance can help pay for long-term care services with the help of Accelerated Death Benefits or other benefits. We recommend speaking to your insurance company about your specific insurance policy.

Paying privately is another common method of paying for long-term care. Many people use reverse mortgages, trusts, or annuities.

Keep in mind that…

Disability insurance does not cover long-term care services.
Medicare Supplemental Insurance, aka Medigap, does not cover long-term care services.

Finding long-term care you can trust can be difficult. Choosing senior care with the help of our team can take the confusion out of the equation. Each of our senior living facilities are staffed with friendly professionals who strive to give our residents quality care and quality lives. Find out how we can help you solve your long-term care needs—contact us today.