Barbara Fradkin – Special to FLORIDA TODAY

Reader Question:  What does long-term care insurance cover? Are seniors too old to get it?

Answer:  Long-term care (LTC) insurance has been around since the 1970’s. The product didn’t really catch on with consumers until the late 1980’s, when assisted living communities started becoming popular. Just like it sounds, the insurance is for long-term care or support services required to meet the personal care needs of aging adults.

It ain’t cheap.

I know, since my husband and I have been covered since we were in our 50’s.  But the cost of long-term care, whether in your home or in assisted living, can be very expensive, too.  And for those who can afford it, LTC insurance defrays a good portion of those costs.

The average age of people purchasing LTC insurance is 62.  So you’re not too old!

There are two types of insurance available:

  • Traditional long-term care insurance is paid by annual premiums. If the insured goes on claim, she/he receives payment that can reimburse or pay for long-term care expenses– including costs of assisted living or skilled nursing facilities. Importantly, it also pays for care received at home.
  • Asset-based long-term care insurance ties the LTC benefit to life insurance or an annuity. When a claim is made, policy holders receive payments to help cover some or all of their LTC expense.  If the benefit is never needed, a death benefit is paid to the owner’s beneficiaries. In most cases, it is equal to (or greater than) the sum of the premiums paid.

Services and support are covered when the claimant requires some assistance with activities for daily living, such as bathing, eating, dressing, toileting and transfers to and from bed or chair.  A diagnosis of dementia will generally preclude other requirements.

The length of the term in “long-term” care insurance can vary. So make sure you know the length of time your policy will continue to pay benefits –and use it wisely.  If you are moving to an assisted living situation, the cost would most likely be paid in full, thereby giving you the chance to save your money while the long-term care insurance is paying.  Once the policy term expires, you would then have the extra funds to continue making payment.  For home care, some policies will allow for an accrual of unused hours, thus increasing the amount of time the policy pays.

My column only touched on the highlights of this important topic!  Join us for a discussion about long-term care insurance on Tuesday, April 20th. Just call One Senior Place 321-751-6771 to RSVP.



One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at

Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker, Certified Care Manager and the Director for One Senior Place, Viera.