Most Americans over age 65 will need long-term care (LTC) at some point in their lives. Long-term care refers to care lasting more than 90 days. It includes services for people who have lost the ability to maintain their independence due to aging, frailty, illness, or accidents. LTC may be needed at any age, but the longer you live, the more likely you are to need it.

Two Types of LTC

Despite common misconceptions, only a very small percentage of LTC takes place in a nursing facility. There are two types of LTC:

  • Custodial care consists mostly of help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, transferring, continence, or supervision for cognitive impairments. Custodial care is provided by non-medical personnel and represents about 95 percent of LTC needs.
  • Skilled care is continuous care provided under doctor’s orders by licensed healthcare professionals. It includes such services as IV injections, sterile dressing changes, tube feeding, and rehabilitation services.
Medicare Limits

Medicare doesn’t cover custodial care (whether it’s provided at home or in a facility). For skilled care, Medicare pays for only the first 100 days in a nursing home following a qualified hospitalization, and for home health care provided by a nurse or physical therapist when a person is homebound.

To protect yourself against future LTC costs, you may want to consider long-term care insurance

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