Tools & Resources
Many people mistakenly think long-term care is synonymous with nursing home care, but it’s just one of the many settings in which long-term care is delivered. In fact, most long-term care service are provided at home by a visiting nurse or a home health aide, for example.
Long-term care services are also provided in places like assisted living facilities and adult day care centers. Because long-term care insurance policies may differ in what they cover, it’s important to be familiar with the different locations where you can receive care. Read about the four settings in which most long-term care is delivered below.
- Home Care
Home care is a simple phrase that encompasses a wide range of health and social services delivered at home to recovering, disabled, chronically ill or terminally ill persons. These services may include medical, nursing, social, or therapeutic treatment, assistance with essential activities of daily living, and even light household needs, such as shopping and cooking.
Generally, home care is appropriate whenever a person prefers to stay at home but needs ongoing care that cannot easily or effectively be provided solely by family and friends. More and more seniors, electing to live independent, non-institutionalized lives, are receiving home care services as their physical capabilities diminish. It’s also a popular choice for younger adults and children coping with chronic conditions or disabilities.
More info on the National Association for Home Care and Hospice
- Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities are residential centers that provide continued care for those who want or need assistance performing certain daily living activities. These facilities, which are growing in popularity, generally offer personal services, 24-hour supervision and assistance, recreational activities and health-related services. They are designed to minimize the need to move around, and typically provide residents with more privacy and independence than a nursing home setting.
More info on The National Center for Assisted Living
- Nursing Homes
Nursing homes are dedicated facilities that provide comprehensive long-term care services. Though they are primarily for the elderly, nursing homes will provide care to people of all ages who are in need of extended long-term care services. The goal of care in a nursing home facility is to help individuals meet their daily physical, social, medical, and psychological needs in a controlled setting.
Nursing homes generally provide around-the-clock care and may offer medical, rehabilitative, personal and residential services. But all this care comes at a price: the median price for a private room in a nursing home is almost $84,000 a year, and that cost can be significantly more in certain regions.2 Prices and services often vary by location and facility, so it pays to shop around for the facility that meets your needs and budget.
More info on The American Health Care Association
- Adult Day Care
Adult day care centers are community-based programs designed to meet the needs of functionally or cognitively impaired adults. These structured, comprehensive programs provide a variety of health, social, and other related support services in a protective setting during daytime hours.
Most programs operate during the week, and can be attended full or part time. Some programs offer services in the evenings and on weekends.
More info on The National Adult Day Services Association
As with most kinds of personal insurance, the younger you are when you purchase long-term care insurance, the lower your premiums will be. Once you own a policy, premiums generally don’t increase with age, unless an insurance company raises them for a whole class of policyholders.
When you consider that 40% of those receiving long-term care are under age 65, you should at least give some thought to buying coverage when you’re still relatively young. Doing so should allow you to lock in a low rate while providing you with coverage that may be needed sooner than you think. Also, be aware that most companies won’t sell individual policies to people under age 18 or over age 84.
If you can’t buy as much coverage as you think you need, consider buying an affordable plan now and enhancing it later when your financial situation improves.
Long-term care services, whether provided in a nursing home or in your house, can cost a considerable amount. But prices vary widely throughout the country due to cost of living differences, state and local regulations, and other factors.
Our Cost of Care map shows the median yearly cost of nursing home care, and the median hourly and yearly costs of home health care, in all 50 states. As you’ll see from the costs, the question isn’t always can you afford to have long-term insurance, it’s can you afford not to.