By the time you reach 65 years old, there’s a 50-50 chance you’ll need long-term care. Approximately 70 percent of people over the age of 65 will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime. You can never know for sure if you’ll need long-term care or not. An unexpected event or injury can leave you suddenly needing this type of assistance. The best time to think about long-term care is before you need it.
What’s Long-Term Care? Think of long-term care as the day-to-day help needed by people with illnesses that last a long time (chronic illnesses), disabilities, or other conditions. Some people need long-term care for several months, while others need it for years or a lifetime. Long-term care can include:
• Changes to your home to make it safer, more comfortable, and easier to get around;
• Technology that helps you stay independent;
• Help with housekeeping, meals, and personal care like bathing or getting dressed;
• Skilled medical care provided by a nurse or other health care professional.
It’s tough to think about needing long-term care services, but the National Institute on Aging suggests individuals should consider what would happen if they became seriously ill or disabled. It’s important to talk with family and friends about your options. Read about how to prepare healthcare advance directives and consult an attorney if necessary. Research shows three of every four elderly people who need care will receive that care from a family member or loved one. However, this level of care can be difficult for family members to handle for the long-term. These are important matters to discuss before long-term care is needed. You may also choose to discuss long term-care insurance options with a trusted insurance agent. A nursing home isn’t the only service paid for by long-term care insurance. It’s important to do your research and know your options before this type of care may be needed. If you would like to learn more about beginning your planning, visit AARP.net for a resource guide (https://cdn.aarp.net/content/dam/aarp/entertainment/books/2012-11/Resource-Guide-Planning-for-Long-Term-Care.pdf).
Needing long-term care isn’t a guarantee and the steps you take now can influence whether you’ll need it at all. Your overall health can influence your need for long-term care and poor lifestyle choices can raise your risk for a number of chronic conditions. Severe chronic conditions increase your chances of needing long-term care. While you can’t change some health risk factors such as your family history, you can focus on a healthy lifestyle. By taking steps to manage risks and plan for potential challenges, you can stay independent longer. It’s not too late to incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine:
• Don’t smoke or quit smoking;
• Participate in daily physical activity;
• Choose a healthy diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low in fat;
• Maintain a healthy weight; and
• If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks per day for men).
For additional resources and information, Carson City Health and Human Services has onsite representatives from Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living and Aging and Disability Resource Center. Call 775-887-2190 for available days and times to meet with a representative. For Health Department programs and services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cchhs.