What Is Long-Term Care?

In this article...
  • Find out what types of long-term care are available for older adults and learn when seniors or their family members should consider seeking care at each level.
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Long-term care is a phrase that's used to describe ongoing care provided to older adults and individuals with chronic illnesses or disabilities. As it pertains to older adults, several types of long-term care services are available.

When choosing the most appropriate support services for their loved one, family members should consider the level of care required as well as the cost.

Types of Long-Term Care

Here are the long-term care options most commonly available throughout the U.S., their average costs and who they're best suited for.

Adult Day Care

Adult day care offers older adults daily care in a non-residential setting. Services generally include regular wellness checks, meals and social activities. In most cases, this type of care is provided to those who are transitioning out of hospital care or nursing care and back into their own homes after receiving treatment for an illness or disability.

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of adult day care in the U.S. is $1,625. This type of care may be covered under some health insurance plans.

Home Health Care

Home health care allows older adults to stay at home while receiving long-term care services. Home health aides may provide intermittent care or live-in services and offer assistance with daily hygiene routines and medication administration. In some cases, home nursing services can be provided for those who wish to age in place and require a higher level of care.

Home health care costs an average of $4,385 per month in the U.S. and is often covered by health insurance policies and Medicaid programs.

Assisted Living and Memory Care

Memory care and assisted living facilities provide residential care services for older adults. While assisted living facilities offer services to seniors who require help with activities of daily living such as grooming and eating, memory care facilities provide a more specialized type of care for those living with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. In addition to personal care, these facilities typically provide social activities, meals, housekeeping and care planning services.

Throughout the U.S., the average cost of assisted living is $4,051 per month. Memory care costs may be slightly higher. Long-term care insurance or other health insurance plans may cover some of these costs, and Medicaid programs are available in most states to help with assisted living costs.

Nursing Home Care

Nursing home care is usually best for higher-risk seniors. It includes residential care services similar to what's offered in an assisted living program; however, nursing home care includes regular medical care and other health services for older adults who are living with severe disabilities and illnesses.

At an average monthly cost of $8,517, the cost of nursing home care is generally quite a bit higher than other types of long-term care, so it's important that family members only look to this option when it becomes absolutely necessary. Many assistance programs are available to offset these costs, including Medicaid waivers. Health insurance and long-term care insurance plans may also cover a portion of the cost of nursing home care.