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Report Reveals Who Needs Long-Term Care Insurance

Armen Hareyan's picture

A report from the Family Caregiver Alliance reveals the need for long-term care in the United States. A second report from the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance notes that some 8.25 millions have purchased long-term care insurance to help pay for care. The average age of purchasers is 57.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance data, an estimated 10 million Americans needed long-term care in 2000.

Most but not all persons in need of long-term care are elderly. Approximately 63% are persons aged 65 and older (6.3 million); the remaining 37% are 64 years of age and younger (3.7 million).

The lifetime probability of becoming disabled in at least two activities of daily living or of being cognitively impaired is 68% for people age 65 and older.

By 2050, the number of individuals using paid long-term care services in any setting (e.g., at home, residential care such as assisted living, or skilled nursing facilities) will likely double from the 13 million using services in 2000, to 27 million people. This estimate is influenced by growth in the population of older people in need of care.

Of the older population with long-term care needs in the community, about 30% (1.5 million persons) have substantial long-term care needs (three or more ADL limitations). Of these, about 25% are 85 and older and 70% report they are in fair to poor health.

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About 40% of the older population with long-term care needs are poor or near poor (with incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level).

Between 1984 and 1994, the number of older persons receiving long-term care remained about the same at 5.5 million people, while the prevalence of long-term care use declined from 19.7% to 16.7% of the 65+ population. In comparison, 2.1%, or over 3.3 million, of the population aged 18–64 received long-term care in the community in 1994.

While there was a decline in the proportion (i.e., prevalence) of the older population receiving long-term care, the level of disability and cognitive impairment among those who received assistance with daily tasks rose sharply. The proportion receiving help with three to six ADLs increased from 35.4% to 42.9% between 1984 and 1994. The proportion of cognitive impairment among the 65+ population rose from 34% to 40%.9

The prevalence of cognitive impairment among the older population increased over the past decade, while the prevalence of physical impairment remains unchanged.

In 2002, the percentage of older persons with moderate or severe memory impairment ranged from about 5% among persons aged 65–69 to about 32% among persons aged 85 or older.

Individuals 85 years and older, the oldest old, are one of the fastest growing segments of the population. In 2005, there are an estimated 5 million people 85+ in the United States. This figure is expected to increase to 19.4 million by 2050. This means that there could be an increase from 1.6 million to 6.2 million people age 85 or over with severe or moderate memory impairment in 2050.

Written by Jesse Slome from the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance