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Understanding Long-Term Care: A Comprehensive Guide

November 7, 2018

Take a minute to watch this video for important information on long-term care, a topic everyone needs to be ahead of.

Long-term care (LTC) is a critical aspect of health and personal care that affects a significant portion of the population. Statistics indicate a high probability—around 70%—that an individual or their spouse will require long-term care at some point. This statistic underscores the importance of understanding what long-term care entails, its costs, and how to prepare for it.

What is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care refers to a variety of services and supports tailored to meet an individual’s personal care needs over an extended period. Contrary to common misconceptions, most long-term care is not medical in nature. Instead, it predominantly involves assistance with everyday activities crucial for daily living.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Activities of Daily Living, or ADLs, are fundamental tasks that most people perform daily without assistance. These include:

  • Bathing: Assistance with washing oneself in a bathtub or shower.
  • Dressing: Help with choosing and putting on clothes.
  • Using the toilet: Assistance with going to and using the toilet.
  • Transferring: The ability to move into or out of a bed or chair.
  • Caring for incontinence: Managing bladder and bowel control, including using a commode or adult diapers.
  • Eating: The capability to feed oneself.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, or IADLs, are tasks that are somewhat more complex than ADLs and are essential for independent living. These include:

  • Housework: Keeping living areas clean and tidy.
  • Managing money: Budgeting, paying bills, and handling financial matters.
  • Taking medication: Managing and taking prescribed medicines.
  • Meal preparation: Planning, cooking, and cleaning up after meals.
  • Shopping: Buying groceries, clothes, and other necessities.
  • Communication: Using the telephone or other devices to communicate.
  • Pet care: Taking care of pets.
  • Responding to emergencies: Recognizing and responding appropriately to emergency alerts like fire alarms.

The Cost of Long-Term Care

The cost of long-term care can vary significantly based on several factors:

  • Coverage Amount: More comprehensive plans typically cost more.
  • Length of Care: Longer durations of care will naturally incur higher costs.
  • Deductibles: Higher deductibles can lower premiums but increase out-of-pocket expenses during care.

Age Factor in Premium Costs

The initial premium level for long-term care insurance tends to increase with the age of the applicant. Younger individuals typically face lower premiums, highlighting the advantage of planning for long-term care early.

The Challenge of Qualification

Qualifying for long-term care insurance becomes more challenging with age. Statistics show that 1 in 4 applicants between the ages of 60 and 69 do not qualify for such insurance. This statistic is a stark reminder of the importance of early planning.

The Necessity of Preparation

Given the high likelihood of needing long-term care and the associated challenges and costs, it is crucial to understand the options and prepare adequately. This preparation is not just a personal matter but also a significant consideration for families.

Why Prepare for Long-Term Care?

  1. Financial Stability: Long-term care can be expensive, and early planning can help in managing these costs more effectively.
  2. Quality of Life: With proper care, the quality of life in later years can be significantly improved.
  3. Family Peace of Mind: Knowing that there is a plan in place can provide peace of mind to both the individual and their family members.
  4. Independence: Adequate preparation can help maintain independence for as long as possible.


Understanding and preparing for long-term care is a critical aspect of life planning. Given the high probability of needing such care, it’s prudent to start planning early. This includes understanding what long-term care entails, evaluating insurance options, and considering personal and family needs. By taking proactive steps today, individuals can ensure they have the support and resources they need to maintain their quality of life and independence in the future.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult with your financial advisor.
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