Long term care is defined as “a variety of services which help meet both the medical and non-medical needs of people with a chronic illness or disability who cannot care for themselves for long periods of time.” While those of all ages might need long term care for various reasons, it’s more commonly needed by older adults. In fact, around 70% of people over the age of 65 need long term care services throughout their lifetime.
Unlike short term care, which usually lasts a few days or up to a month, long term care is usually provided within a skilled nursing or long term care facility and can last upwards of a month, or even can be ongoing depending on the person’s needs. For example, someone who is left with severe disabilities after a stroke or someone in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease may remain in long term care indefinitely, especially if their needs cannot be met through in-home caregiving.
Your need for long term care increases as you age. Generally, if you or your loved one is beginning to have difficulty with activities of daily living, like dressing, bathing, preparing meals, and moving about the home, a long term care facility can provide a better overall quality of life. While many seniors wish to remain in their homes as long as possible, oftentimes the assistance they require might be more than a family caregiver can provide.
Along with age, several other factors will also impact who needs long term care. Because women outlive men by about five years, they are more likely to require some long term care in the future instead of aging alone in the home. An accident or disability can also increase your need for long term care, and almost 70% of people age 90 or older suffer from some sort of disability. There is also your overall health to consider; a family history of chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, the risk of dementia, and poor lifestyle habits can all increase your need for long term care in the future.
In long term care facilities, trained professionals provide around the clock skilled nursing care, offering a wide range of personal care and healthcare services. Not only is assistance with daily living activities provided, but services like physical, occupational and speech therapies are also part of the daily routine. Long term care facilities encourage independence among the residents, but offer peace of mind that assistance will be provided as needed.