OK, So What Is Long-Term Care Anyway?

Long-Term Care

Long-Term Care is a very misunderstood product that almost always needs some sort of clarification. When most people think of the term, “Long-Term Care”, they will often envision an elderly man or women in a nursing home needing assistance having continence issues, or having the inability to get out of a chair and transfer to bed, or something similar. While these are accurate depictions “at times” of what a Long-Term Care situation might entail, they are by far, not the most common.

80% of all claims for LTC take place at home, which is where people want to be if ever an extended care situation was to take place. So we can get the image of a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) out of our minds as most care will start and stay at home. Another image we sometimes fail to look at is the image of a person at home for many years suffering memory loss issues. Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia are on the rise and can affect people that are young, middle aged, or older, not just the elderly.

So what is Long-Term Care? Is it a nursing home? No. Is it Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s? No. Is it a stroke or the inability to handle life’s activities? No. Then what is it? It’s not a condition; it’s a life-changing event that’s caused by a physical and or cognitive impairment. By definition, these illnesses would so compro¬≠mise you that your family or friends would have no choice but to side aside their own lives to provide care. The goal of having a plan of care in place is to try and keep the frail person at home as much as possible without creating emotional, physical, and financial consequences for themselves or others around them. The key, I believe, is to have a plan where family and friends can “supervise” the care that is provided, and not have to actually try to “perform” the care that is required. Friends and family (informal caregivers) can often become just as ill as the person they are trying to take care of. For example, some 22% of informal caregivers to the elderly are depressed—around twice the rate in the population as a whole. 55% of caregivers living with dementia patients suffer clinical depression.[1]

In addition, the stress often involved in taking care of someone who is chronically ill can be devastating. Someone not having a plan of care in place, but to say that their spouse will take care of them does not know what they are really saying. Elderly informal caregivers run a 63% higher risk of dying from stress-related illnesses.[2] Statistics on the issue of informal care giving are virtually endless. Informal caregivers who responded that their health has gotten worse as a result of caregiving most commonly report a loss of energy and sleep (87%), stress or panic attacks (70%), aches or pain (60%), depression (52%), headaches (41%) and weight gain or loss (38%). In addition, they tend to spend less time with family or friends (69%) and at work (37%).[3]

I was once at a couple’s home assisting them with the implementation of an extended care plan but all the 6’2” 230 lb husband kept saying was, “My wife will take care of me.” So I asked him to get up from the table and lay flat on the floor. He said, WHAT!? I said, just do it, I want to show you something. So he laid there flat on the floor and asked his 5’3” 120 lb wife to go over there and lift him off the floor without any help from him and put him back in the chair. Surprisingly enough she actually tried and said, “This is ridiculous, I can’t pick him up!” EXACTLY, I said. So tell me something John, how is Margaret supposed to take care of you if you become frail? Wouldn’t it be more loving on your part to allow her to supervise the care rather than try and do perform the care and become just as ill as you trying to do so? They moved forward with the plan… and so should you if a qualified advisor is recommending you to do look into it for the sake of your family.

About the author: Kyle McDonald holds FIC, FICF, FSCP® & CLTC designations. His viewpoint on life insurance is simple, “Anyone with a family must have life insurance. In the end, life insurance is for others you care about, not you.” He is ready to help you and your family get the best option available. Contact Kyle today at   1-800-651-1953 or KMcDonald@Pivot.com.


[1] End-of-Life Care and the Effects of Bereavement on Family Caregivers of Persons with Dementia, Richard Schulz, Ph.D., Aaron B. Mendelsohn, Ph.D., William E. Haley, Ph.D., Diane Mahoney, Ph.D., Rebecca S. Allen, Ph.D., Song Zhang, M.S., Larry Thompson, Ph.D., and Steven H. Belle, Ph.D., for the Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) Investigators, November 13, 2003

[2] R. Schulz, S. Beach, B. Lind, L. Martire, B. Zdaniuk, C. Hirsch, S. Jackson, L. Burton, “Involvement in Caregiving and Adjustment to Death of a Spouse: Findings From the Caregiver Health Effects Study,” JAMA, June 2001; issue 285, pages 3123–3129 http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/285/24/3123

[3] Evercare Study of Caregivers in Decline, National Association of Caregiving, 2006 http://www.caregiving.org/data/Caregivers%20in%20Decline%20Study-FINAL-lowres.pdf