Shake a Fist at Intimidating Articles About the Cost of Long Term Care
The views and opinions expressed in Bob’s Blog are solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of the CAC Office on Aging or its staff. Posted 10-07-2022
I am always looking for subjects to write about that I think will be of interest to most of those who read this blog. Recently, I saw an article about Long Term Care by Chris Kessel in Money Talk News. The title was “11 Million Retirees Will Struggle With This Expense a Decade From Now.”
In that article, Chris talked about the difficulty many older people are going to have paying for long term care later in their later years. Here are some surprising things he said:
“By 2033, more than 11 million retirees age 75 and older will not be able to cover the cost of assisted living. And to make matters more difficult, these same folks are unlikely to qualify for Medicaid, meaning they will be stuck with a bill they cannot pay.
The challenge for these seniors will be coping with the fact that they are middle-income, meaning they are too poor to fund their own care yet too rich to qualify for Medicaid. The number of seniors who will fall into this middle-income group is expected to grow by 89% — or 7.5 million — between the years of 2018 and 2033.”
As I age, I sometimes wonder what will happen to me later in life. I am in pretty good physical shape. Currently, I have no major medical conditions. I did have a double coronary bypass in 2004. However, I have had no major problems since then.
Will I, myself, need long term care at some point in the future? If I do, what will that look like? Needless to say, Chris’s article caught my attention.
Do You Have the Same Concerns?
The subject of Long Term Care is not new for me. Several years ago, I wrote a blog post about it. In that post, I focused primarily on how expensive long-term care was. If you would like to read it, please click here.
After reading Chris’ article, I decided to take another look at Long Term Care. However, this time from a different perspective. I wanted to find out more about how many people will need this type of care, what type of care they might need and how long that care might last.
I thought you would be interested in what I learned.
70% of Those Turning 65 Will Need Long Term Care Later in Life
You may wonder how many people will need Long Term Care at some point later in Life. A study on this was submitted to the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2017. That revealed that 70% of the people who turn 65 will need some type of this care at some point.
70% – 7 out of every 10 older people will need it. That 70% has not changed is still being quoted in articles today.
- Women will need care for almost 4 years.
- Men who will only need it for a little over 2 years.
- 20% will need care for over 5 years.
Where Will People Get This Care?
65% of them will get it at home. They will get this care from their sons, daughters, or other relatives. This will be supplemented by paid care from home health care aides, visiting nurses, and other professionals.
One major reason the care will be provided at home is the cost of Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes is very high. The person needing care and their families cannot afford it. So, they are kept home.
As Chris Kessel says, many of these people are middle income and don’t have the money to pay for such care.
Surprisingly, low-income retirees who have limited assets may be eligible for care in a Nursing Home. Medicaid will pay for this. However, there are certain things which prevent many from being admitted to a home.
They have to show that they had exhausted most of the assets they had five years before they can be admitted.
Not all homes accept Medicaid. There are long waiting lists at homes which do.
The 3 Places People Get Care Outside Their Home
These are Adult Day Care, Assisted Living and Nursing Homes. Here is the percentage of people who get their care in each of these:
- 7% – Adult Day Care (The person lives at home. They’re at the center during the day)
- 2% – Assisted Living Facilities
- 1% – Nursing Homes
Here in Knox County, there are not that many Adult Care facilities. With the demand rising for this type of care, the number of facilities may increase in the coming years.
The Medical Conditions Necessitating Care
One of the things which surprised me was the medical conditions which require a person to need long term care These are:
- High Blood pressure – 55%
- Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias -34%
- Depression – 27%
- Arthritis – 20%
- Diabetes – 20%
- Heart disease – 17%
- Osteoporosis – 12%
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and related conditions – 11%
- Stroke – 10%
I was shocked that High Blood Pressure was number 1. I thought Alzheimer’s and Dementia would be higher. I also thought cancer and back problems would make the list. They didn’t.
The Type of Help People in Assisted Living Centers Need
I was also surprised by the type of help people residing in Assisted Living Centers require:
- 64% need help bathing
- 57% need help walking
- 48% need help dressing
- 40% need help going to the bathroom
- 29% need help with bed transfer
- 19% need help eating
I didn’t expect to see bathing at the top of the list. I thought those needing help with bed transfer might be higher.
I never thought people would need help eating. One reason may be Alzheimer’s patients may need it. Years ago, the wife of one of my friends had Alzheimer’s. Her memory deteriorated to the point where she didn’t remember how to eat. He had to feed her every day.
Another thing that surprised me was the age of residents in Assisted Living Centers. I discovered more than half (55%) were 85 years of age or older. I assumed the age of the residents in these centers would be spread out more from age 65 up.
The next thing I looked at was Nursing Homes. I had never given much thought to how long people lived in them. Here is what I found:
- 2% – 1 year or less
- 3% – 1 to 3 years
- 0% – 3 to 5 years
- 0% – 5 years or more
I also found women are about two-thirds more likely than men to receive long-term nursing home care over their lifetime (34 percent versus 20 percent). They are also about twice as likely to receive long-term Medicaid-financed nursing home care (17 percent versus 8 percent).
People whose stays in Nursing Homes are paid for by Medicaid tend to reside in them longer than those who are able to pay for it themselves or have private long-term care insurance which does.
Every year, about one third of the residents in a Nursing Home die. The median survival rate is 2.2 years.
Pneumonia – The Big Villain
I also thought that most residents in Nursing Homes died from severe medical conditions like heart attacks, strokes or cancer. I was surprised to find the most common cause of death was pneumonia and other lower respiratory tract infections.
My Own Personal Fear
I have always been afraid that if I ever required Long Term Care in my later years, I would be looking at an Assisted Living Center or a Nursing Home. I imagined I would be in one of these for years and I wondered where the money would come from to pay for it.
That fear arose from articles like Chris Kessel’s where the focus was about how most older people like us would not be able to cover the cost of the care we will need.
My hope always has been that I would be one of the 30% who won’t need Long Term Care That I would die quickly from a heart attack or stroke or some other major illness.
Now after doing this research, I have found If I do need long term care, there is a high probability I will only need it for a little over 2 years. There is a good chance I will get the care I need at home.
My Hope for You
Like me, you may be really concerned about what your life may be like in your later years. You may have heard a lot of negatives about what Long Term Care is like.
I hope after reading this post, you have a better understanding of it. I also hope I have cleared up any of your misconceptions.
As you can see, there is a strong possibility you may get any care you need at home. If you do go into an Assisted Living Center or a Nursing Home, your stay there probably won’t be that long and money won’t be an issue.