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How to Determine When Long-term Care Is Needed

It is estimated that roughly 70 percent of people turning 65 will need some type of long-term care service in their lifetime. But needing long-term care is not something strictly determined by age. Instead, the threshold for determining whether a person needs long-term care services is determined by their ability to manage activities of daily living (otherwise known as ADLs).

ADLs are defined as basic activities deemed necessary to carry on living at home independently. They are performed on an everyday basis and typically revolve around basic personal needs.

If you are debating whether a loved one is capable of sufficient self-care, assess their ability to perform the following five ADLs:

  1. Eating: Ability to feed oneself (not including cooking or food preparation)
  2. Dressing: Ability to physically dress and undress oneself, and make sound clothing decisions
  3. Personal hygiene: Ability to care for one’s own bathing, grooming, and oral hygiene
  4. Mobility: Ability to transfer oneself from standing to sitting (and vice versa), as well as walk independently from point A to point B
  5. Continence: Ability to control one’s bladder and bowel functions, and use a toilet without assistance

Without being able to perform these daily functions, a loved one’s quality of life typically declines very rapidly. This can lead to infections, starvation, and even being stranded in one’s own home. Despite common beliefs, a spouse or child may be unable to care for an elder or disabled loved one when the time of need arrives. That’s where long-term care comes along.

The list of ADLs can help determine the need for long-term care and the amount of assistance required. Each state assistance program uses different assessments, but assistance is usually recommended when someone is unable to perform two or more of the ADLs listed above.

The cost of long-term care facilities grew 6.15% following the COVID-19 pandemic, with the median cost settling at $51,600/year. Whether you’re looking out for a loved one or thinking of establishing a safety net for your future self – a long-term care insurance policy can help.