Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Planning for Long-Term Care Can't Be Left to Chance with Ranks of Older Americans Set to Swell, Identifying Needs Will Be Crucial as Demand for Services Increases

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Planning for Long-Term Care Can't Be Left to Chance with Ranks of Older Americans Set to Swell, Identifying Needs Will Be Crucial as Demand for Services Increases

Article excerpt

The term "long-term services and supports" refers to medical and personal care help that people may need to care for themselves because of disability, illness or simply just getting old.

These services can include some of our most basic needs, such as bathing, toileting and dressing oneself, along with more complex tasks such as medication administration, preparing one's meals and managing one's finances.

There is an array of these services available, such as home health care, transportation services, personal care homes, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities and continuing care retirement communities.

However, in this country, the vast majority of these care and support services are provided by unpaid caregivers, usually relatives and friends.

A 2012 survey showed the majority of family caregivers are women age 50 and over who care for a parent for at least one year while maintaining outside employment.

This has certainly been a common phenomenon in our practice, and it can continue until the caregiver child, who often is unpaid, can no longer meet the increased needs of the parent, thus necessitating higher (and more expensive) levels of care.

In 2012, the total estimated cost for long-term care services and supports was estimated at $362 billion, with Medical Assistance paying for 40 percent; out-of pocket payment from the care recipient, 15 percent; private insurance, 7 percent; Medicare, a very limited long-term care payer, 20 percent; and other public and private sources, 18 percent.

What's the future look like? None too rosy. In June, with funding from the National Institute on Aging, the U.S. Census Bureau published a report that took a long look at our 65 and older population, which totaled 40.3 million in 2010. This was 13.1 percent of the total U.S. population. …

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