Facts About Long-Term Care

July 6, 2005

Each year, consumers spend about $40 billion out-of-pocket for long-term care services.1 This does not include the cost of informally provided care; about two-thirds of persons with long-term care needs receive services from unpaid help only.2 Advance planning can help consumers age in place and make optimal use of available services.

About 13 million Americans report having long-term care needs; in less than 20 years, this number is expected to increase by 70% to 22 million people.3 Five percent of the elderly are in nursing homes – about 1.4 million people.4 Approximately 43% of those turning age 65 can expect to spend some time in a long-term care facility, about half of them will require care for three years or more, and 20% will spend five years or longer in a nursing home.5 One in five people who reach age 65 will spend more than two years in a nursing home.6 Rates of nursing home use are declining, associated with an increase in the use of home health care services and alternative residential care services such as assisted living.7 The fact is, 60% of people who turn age 65 this year will need long-term care as they grow older.8
1 Feder, H.I. Komisar, and M. Niefeld, “Long-Term Care in the United States: An Overview”, Health Affairs 19 (2000): 40-56.
2 R. Stone, Long-Term Care for the Elderly with Disabilities. Current Policy Emerging Trends, and Implications for the Twenty-First Century (Washington, D.C.: Millbank Memorial Fund, 2000).
3 Facts on Long-Term Care, 1997 (Washington, D.D.: National Academy on an Aging Society, 1997); available at http://www.agingsociety.org/aging-society/publications/fact/index.html.
4 National Nursing Home Survey 1999 (Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2000).
5 M. Donald Wright, “Looking Toward the Future with Long-Term Care Insurance” (Financial Gerontology), Journal of American Society of CLU & CHFC51 (May 1997).
6 P.Kemper and C.M. Murtagh, “Lifetime Use of Nursing Home Care.” New England Journal of Medicine (3424): 595-600.
7 National Nursing Home Survey 1999.
8 K.J. Mahoney, L. Connolly, D. Phillips, and T. Hayaski, “Increasing Awareness of Long-Term Care Costs and Options, the Early Experience of the California Partnership for LTC,” prepared for the Gerontological Society of America, Coston, MA, 1996.