Q: What are the options for long-term care for seniors?

A:  Long-term care (LTC) is a range of support services that you may need to meet your personal care needs as you age. Approximately 60% of us will need assistance with things like dressing, bathing, driving and preparing meals at some point in our lives. Planning ahead is important, but the information can be confusing. So is determining what is covered by insurance–and what’s not. Here are some of the big questions…

“How much care will I need?” The duration and level of care are unique to each individual and often change over time. Consider these statistics from the Administration for Community Living ( about LTC:

  • Someone turning 65 today has a nearly 70% chance of needing long-term care services in their lifetime.
  • Women typically need care longer than men. (3.7 years versus 2.2 years)
  • One-third of today’s 65-year-olds many never need long-term care support– but 20% will need it longer than five years.

“Who will provide the care?” LTC services often come from:

  • An unpaid caregiver. 80% of care at home is provided by an unpaid family member, partner, friend or neighbor.
  • Adult day services and home-care service agencies
  • Long-term care facilities (assisted living communities, group homes, nursing homes)

“Who pays for long-term care?”  There are common misunderstandings about which public programs pay for LTC services. Knowing what is covered (and what isn’t) can make all the difference when exploring your options.

MEDICARE only pays for LTC if you are receiving skilled services or rehabilitative care.

  • In a nursing home for a maximum of 100 days (average stay is about 22 days).
  • At home if you are receiving skilled home care or skilled therapy (generally only provided for a few weeks.

MEDICAID will pay for a share of LTC services. To qualify, you must be considered “medically needy” and you must meet minimum state eligibility requirements.

Other federal programs that may pay for some services include the Older Americans Act and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  However, these are limited to specific populations and in certain circumstances. Most private health insurance companies only cover the same kind of services as Medicare.

Other ways to pay for LTC include long-term care insurance, life insurance options, annuities and reverse mortgages. If you need help evaluating your long-term care options, call One Senior Place at 321-751-6771 for a (free) confidential 30-minute consultation.


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. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.