Defining the Need for Long-Term Care

Long-term care recipients can be of any age. Conditions that may lead to the need for long-term care include disability, mental decline or illness, AIDS, stroke, and simple frailty. The need for long-term care is primarily measured by assessing limitations in performing or managing tasks of daily living, including self-care and household tasks.


Obviously, the likelihood of needing long-term care assistance increases with age. The aging of Americans will only increase the need for quality long-term care options. The growth in demand will be driven by increases in the numbers of elderly as a result of the aging of the baby boom generation and the trend toward increased longevity.

Projections from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate a rapid and extensive increase in the elderly population. In 2030, when all the baby boomers will be 65 and older, nearly one in five U.S. residents is expected to be 65 and older. This age group is projected to increase to 88.5 million in 2050, more than doubling 2008’s number, which was 38.7 million. Similarly, the 85 and older population is expected to more than triple, from 5.4 million to 19 million between 2008 and 2050. The number of people 85 years or older, nearly half of whom need assistance with everyday activities, will grow even faster.

Regardless of age, older people are more likely to receive long-term care at home or through community services rather than in nursing homes. Because the need for long-term care is expected to grow substantially in the future, this will place an ever-increasing strain on already burdened public and private financial resources.

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