The Reality of Long-Term Care: Why You Should Plan Ahead for Your Parents and Yourself

People talk a lot about the high cost of medical care, but fewer people mention the expenses associated with long-term care. In some cases, this may be because they don’t realize there’s an important difference.

Long-term care involves help with daily tasks of living, such as getting dressed and eating. While long-term care can be made necessary by advanced age or health conditions, it is not limited to medical care, and people are sometimes surprised to learn that it is often not covered by health insurance. Then they may be shocked again when they see how expensive long-term care is.

There is a good chance that you will need long-term care services at some point – for yourself, for your spouse or for your parents – so it is important to plan for the expense.

Many people need – and struggle to pay for – long-term care.

The majority of people who enjoy a long life will need long-term care at some point. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, today’s 65-year-olds have a 69 percent chance of needing long-term care during their remaining years. People who need care typically need it for an average of three years, although women tend to need more care than men.

Care can be received at home, in an adult health care center or at a residential facility. In 2016, average costs in the United States were as follows:

  • $68 a day for an adult day health care center. At this rate, care for five days a week for three years would cost $53,040.
  • $20.50 an hour for a health aide. At this rate, care for 20 hours a week for three years would cost $63,960.
  • $3,628 a month at an assisted living facility. At this rate, care would cost $130,608 for three years.
  • $6,844 a month for a semi-private room in a nursing home. At this rate, care would cost $246,384 for three years.

Caregivers often suffer from burnout.

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