Author: Paul Oostenbrug
FIRST: What is long-term care?
Many people think the phrase “long term care” refers to services that will somehow be provided. Your long term care plan should include everything from your future medical care and finances, to where you will live, and how you will coordinate the legal, family, and social challenges along the way. LGBT Baby Boomers should be thinking about these issues, for they could soon apply.
Long term care is a range of services and supports you may need to meet your health or personal needs over a long period of time. Most long term care is not medical care. Instead, it is assistance with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, sometimes called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), which include:
- Using the toilet
- Transferring (to or from bed or chair)
- Caring for incontinence
Long term care is also assistance that is provided to someone who is cognitively impaired and needs supervision to remain safe. These impairments include dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
SECOND: Will you need long-term care at some point?
In the 2000, almost 10 million people needed some form of long-term care in the United States. Of this population, 3.6 million (37%) were under age 65 and 6 million (63%) were over age 65. Almost 70% of people turning age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. For the Baby Boom generation, this is right around the corner. You might need medical and/or personal care for months or years because of a health issue or the natural decline of eyesight, hearing, strength, balance and mobility that comes with aging. What any individual will need will be unique to that person, based on their preferences and circumstances. But the needs of LGBT people are likely to differ because their families and living situations are different than those of straight people.
THIRD: Who needs long-term care?
About 70 percent of people will need some form of long term care at some point in their lives. There are a number of factors that affect the possibility that you will need care:
Age. The older you are, the more likely you will need long term care.
Gender. Women outlive men by about five years on average, so they are more likely to live at home alone when they are older.
Other Family Members and Living Arrangements. If you live alone, you’re more likely to need paid care than if you’re married, or single, and living with a partner. For many older LGBT persons, family members may not be around to provide needed care. As we know from the DOMA cases that have come before the courts, many government benefits that married couples are entitled to are not available to LGBT couples.
Disability. Having an accident or chronic illness that causes a disability is another reason for needing long term care. Between ages 40 and 50, on average, eight percent of people have a disability that could require long term care services. 69 percent of people age 90 or more have a disability.
Health Status. Chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure make you more likely to need care. Your family history, such as whether your parents or grandparents had chronic conditions, may increase your likelihood. Poor diet and poor exercise habits increase your chances of needing long term care.
FOURTH: What other questions do you have?
- How much care are you likely to need?
- Who will provide this long term care?
- Where can you receive care?
- Who pays for long term long term care?
We can answer these and any other questions you might have.