Elder law differs from traditional estate planning in the depth and intensity of the attorney’s involvement in issues related to long-term care. Most certified elder law attorneys spend a lot of their time helping families plan for and deal with the need for long term care.
Long-term care refers to the assistance that people need when a chronic condition or a disabling physical or mental illness limits their ability to accomplish basic tasks of everyday life, such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring. These basic tasks are commonly referred to as “ADLs” for “activities of daily living.” Long-term care also involves assistance with other activities such as help with household chores, shopping, money management, medication management, and transportation.
Long-term care services are not usually intended to cure the condition or illness, but rather to allow an individual to attain and maintain a high level of functioning and quality of life.
Over 12 million individuals nationwide need help with long-term care. An estimated 746,000 Pennsylvania residents need long-term care.
Long-term care is of particular concern to seniors. Two-thirds of the recipients of long-term care are over the age of 65. At age 65 Americans have a 60-70% chance of needing long-term care at some point in their remaining lives. And the older they become, the greater the risk they will need long-term care.
The Scan Foundation has just released a number of “fact sheets” about long term care in America that should be of interest to anyone who has an interest in this subject. Entitled “Six National Fact Sheets Highlight Critical Issues on Long-Term Care” the fact sheets cover
- Demographic & Economic Characteristics of an Aging Population
- Who Needs and Who Uses Long-Term Care?
- Growing Demand for Long-Term Care
- Where is Long-Term Care Provided?
- Who Provides Long-Term Care?
- Who Pays for Long-Term Care?
The information is fascinating. For example, the fact sheet on “Who Needs and Uses Lon-Term Care reveals that:
Over 12 million Americans need long‐term care to assist them in daily activities; 58% of these individuals are age 65 or older.
Roughly 70 percent of those turning age 65 will have long‐term care needs at some point in their lives.
Adults age 65 are estimated to need an average of 3 years of long‐term care. Twenty percent are projected to need long‐term care for five years or more and 5% are projected to spend more than five years in a nursing facility.
The rate of need for long‐term care services is four times higher among adults, age 85 and older, compared to adults age 65 to 84.
Nationally, almost 82% who are in institutional settings (e.g., nursing homes) are age 65 and older the proportion of individuals who are in institutional settings increases with age.
The median age for individuals receiving long‐term care in institutional setting is 82 years.
About 67% of individuals receiving care in institutional setting are women.
Over 60% of those living in the community and have a need for long‐term care services are 65 and older.
69% of home care users are 65 and older and 16% are 85 and older.
Among older adults in 2007, 41 percent had at least one disability; 11 percent had a cognitive disability in addition to another type of disability.
More than half of older adults have more than one chronic condition and 11 million live with 5 or more chronic conditions.
Almost 20 percent of older Americans suffer from a mental illness.
An estimated 5.1 million Americans age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s Disease.
Those concerned with planning for long term care may also want to review the resources on the Marshall, Parker & Associates website which is loaded with helpful information. One of the most visited pages on the website is The Pennsylvania Nursing Home Guide which guides the reader through How to Find the Right Nursing Home… How to Get Good Care There… And How to Pay for it.
Another website of note for Pennsylvania residents with children or other family members who need long term care is http://www.paspecialneedslaw.net. It is filled with great planning information.