Long-term care represents a significant burden to the approximately 7 million elderly in need, their families, and the Medicaid program. Concerns exist about access, quality, cost, and the distribution of the burden of care.
Long-term care involves a variety of services designed to meet a person’s health or personal care needs during a short or long period of time. These services help people live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities on their own.
Long-term care is provided in different places by different caregivers, depending on a person’s needs.
he most common type of long-term care is personal care—help with everyday activities, also called “activities of daily living.” These activities include bathing, dressing, grooming, using the toilet, eating, and moving around—for example, getting out of bed and into a chair.
Long-term care also includes community services such as meals, adult day care, and transportation services. These services may be provided free or for a fee.
People often need long-term care when they have a serious, ongoing health condition or disability. The need for long-term care can arise suddenly, such as after a heart attack or stroke. Most often, however, it develops gradually, as people get older and frailer or as an illness or disability gets worse.