Will I need long term care?

According to the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Plan, the average American has a 70% chance of needing some sort of long term care during their lifetime. The odds of needing care are higher for women since women live long then men.

Long term care is unique because there is a generally accepted definition of a long term care situation from a federal law passed in 1996 called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This makes long term care less complicated compared to healthcare and health insurance, car accidents and car insurance.

There are two separate causes or “triggers” for needing long term care: physical limitations and severe cognitive impairment.

Physical limitation: The federal definition of long term care lists six “Activities of Daily Living” (ADLs) that we do every day (doctors, nurses or social workers usually refer to “ADLs”). The ADLs are:

1) Bathing: getting in or out of a tub or shower by yourself and washing your body in a tub, shower or by sponge bath; the ability to wash your hair in a shower, tub or in a sink.
2) Continence: controlling your bladder and bowel.
3) Dressing: putting on and taking off any necessary item of clothing.
4) Eating: getting food into your mouth, including use of utensils.
5) Toileting: getting on and off the toilet and the associated hygiene.
6) Transferring: getting in and out of a bed and chair by yourself.

We will officially need long term care when a licensed healthcare provider certifies that we need help doing at least two of the ADLs for a period expected to last at least 90 days.