Will I need long-term care?


If you’re under 55, it’s unlikely. Even over 55, only a small percentage of the population will need long-term care before they are in their 70s or 80s.

However, according to research published in the journal Inquiry by Kemper, Komisar, and Alecxih, most people who turn 65 in 2005 will, in their lifetime, need some level of long-term care.

  1 2 3 4 5 6
LTC need: None Some 1 year or less 1-2 years 2-5 years More than 5 years
Men 42% 58% 19% 10% 17% 11%
Women 21% 79% 16% 13% 22% 28%

Columns 3 through 6 show the distribution of people in column 2. Note that this study defines LTC need as having one or more ADL limitations, four IADL limitations, or using formal LTC services other than post-acute care under Medicare. As such, it indicates somewhat greater usage of LTC services than most long-term care insurance policies would pay for.

Recent trends suggest that 50 percent or more of the people who might have gone into a nursing home for long-term care will in the future go into an assisted living facility. Assisted living facilities generally cost less than nursing homes. For example, in mid-2005, a MetLife Mature Market Institute survey found a national average daily cost of assisted living facilities of $100, with a range from $55 to $155 across the U.S.

The good news is that people are living healthier longer—that, in other words, the need for long-term care is diminishing and, when it occurs, the onset of need for long-term care is, on average, occurring later and later in life and starting closer to death (so that future periods of long-term care needs may be shorter than at present). In part, this is due to the adoption of better prevention strategies and better medical practices. Even so, if you do need long-term care services, they can be expensive.

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