Info on Long Term/Elder Care

When we think of Long Term care we usually think of an elderly person who is near death in a Nursing Home. While that person does need Long Term Care they are not a true example of the typical person needing Long Term Care. Consider this:

The average person getting Long Term Care is in their own home. In fact, 80% of people getting Long Term Care are in their own home or the community, 2% get care in an Assisted Living Facility and only 18% of people receiving Long Term Care are in a Nursing Home.

Almost 50% of people getting Long Term Care are under the age of 65.

We need Long Term Care (LTC) when we help with the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)- the day to day activities that keep us alive for a period expected to last at least 90 days. The federal law defining Long Term Care  spells out the six Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): bathing, continence, dressing, eating , toileting (the ability to get on and off the toilet by yourself and the hygiene relating to using the bathroom) and transferring (transferring is getting in and out of a bed or chair).

Most people think Long Term Care is almost always highly technical or specialized care for someone on death’s door. The reality is that most people getting Long Term Care are just slowing down physically and need help with the simple activities that most of us take for granted: putting on our clothes and buttoning our buttons, being able to get in and out of a shower or tub and then being able to reach all our important parts with soap and a towel. The ADLs aren’t earth shattering but we won’t have much quality of life if we can’t do them.

This need for help with the ADLs could be due to a physical condition or because we are suffering from a severe cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s that makes us a threat to ourselves or others. . Long Term Care is different from medical care in that medical care tries to cure a condition while Long Term Care does not try to cure you. Long Term Care helps you live each day in your current condition. Medical Care is curative care or skilled care while the overwhelming majority of Long Term Care is custodial or unskilled.

Our need for help with the ADLs for a short period, because of a car accident or illness, or our need can be long term or permanent because of something incurable like paralysis, Alzheimer’s or MS.