People often ask how they can anticipate how much care they might need as they get older. It is very difficult as individual needs change over time and are different for each of us.
This is what we do know:
The average person who is 65 years old today will need some long term care services or support. More than 40 percent will need care in assisted living or skilled nursing home environment.
Things that increase your risk or make it more likely that you’ll need long-term care include:
Age: The older you get, the more likely it is that you’ll need some type of help.
Living alone: If you live alone, you’re more likely to need paid care than if you’re married or single and living with a partner.
Gender: If you are a woman, you will probably need care for longer than a man would (an average of 3.7 years vs. 2.2 years for a man - simply because women usually live longer.)
Lifestyle: Poor diet and exercise habits may increase the chance that you’ll need long-term care services.
Personal history: Health and family history can increase your need for long-term care.
That being said, 20% of today’s 65 year olds will need care for more than 5 years while one –third may never require any long term care services at all.
None of us have a crystal ball to foresee which category we will be in. You will need care when you are not able to perform daily activities on your own or have some chronic illness or disability. Keep in mind that Medicare only pays for long term care following an acute hospitalization when skilled nursing or rehabilitative services are required.
It is important to be prudent and begin to think about what type of care you would want, where you would want to receive it and how it will be paid for well in advance of when you might need services and support.