Feature Archive

Understanding Long-Term Care

Long-term care insurance helps with nursing home expenses.

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith

When most people think of long-term care for the elderly, they think of nursing homes. But it can involve much more than that. It also means home health care and personal care, and help with chores, all of which can be necessary for older people living at home.

But many people's financial resources are quite limited, and this can keep them from getting the care and services they need when they grow old. That's why many people are turning to long-term care insurance.

A Devastating Expense

Long-term care has become the greatest health-care need of older persons. It's the most common catastrophic health-care expense today.

Every day more than 5,000 people in this country turn 65. More than 2.5 million are 85 or older. And the likelihood of chronic illness or disability increases with age.

The kind of services needed by older persons varies widely. Some need help around the house, with shopping, and with transportation. Some need personal care such as help bathing or dressing. Some need rehabilitative care after a stroke, or intensive long-term skilled nursing care. And some need to be placed in nursing homes.