Critter Corner: Long-Term Care Planning Month — Can the Terms “Long-Term Care” and “Nursing Home Care” Be Used Synonymously?

Dear Oakley,

I read somewhere that October is Long-Term Care (LTC) planning month. I heard that 70% of seniors will need long-term care in their lifetimes. I’m a little confused though. Is “long-term care” another way of saying “nursing home care?” Thanks for your clarification.


Elle T. Cee


Dear Elle,

You are correct. October is Long-Term Care Planning Month! Long-term care actually includes a wide range of services and supports. Nursing home care is only one type of long-term care! Long-term care includes:

  • Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs including eating, bathing, dressing, transferring between bed to chair, controlling bowel and bladder function, and properly using the toilet and cleaning up after yourself;
  • Assistance with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). IADLs include preparing meals, shopping for food and personal items, managing medications, managing money, using telephones, and doing housework;
  • Supervision to safeguard health and safety;
  • Skilled and unskilled nursing services and rehabilitation services such as physical and occupational therapy to maintain or improve functioning;

Long-term care can include non-medical, personal care services that aid with daily living activities for seniors in need.

Long-term care can be provided in the home by a family member or friend, or by someone you hire either independently or through a home healthcare agency.

Long-term care can also be provided in an assisted living facility or a small group home, including in a memory care unit that is part of an assisted living facility. Some assisted living facilities are devoted entirely to memory care, but these are still assisted living facilities, and not nursing homes.

It is important to note that Medicare and other health insurance plans do not cover long-term care services.

It is also important to note that Medicaid does cover long-term care services, but generally only if those services are provided in a nursing home. Alternatively, if the individual needs the nursing home “level of care,” then medicaid in most states will pay for some amount of in-home care.

Nursing Home Care is Just One Type of Long-Term Care 

When your current residence and community cannot support your needs as you age, it is important to begin the search for one that can. Most families begin the search by looking for an assisted living facility. This is often a logical starting place because, on the surface, assisted living facilities look nicer than nursing homes, and are typically less expensive than nursing homes if the family is paying privately. But what is important to remember is that Medicaid will not pay for care in an assisted living facility. If someone needs a very high level of care, or has limited funds, then nursing homes may be the best place to start finding the long-term care needed.

Also known as skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes provide the highest level of care possible outside of a hospital.

  • Nursing homes provide care to seniors and others with disabling physical conditions who may have complex medical conditions. But nursing homes mostly cater to individuals who simply need “custodial care,” usually consisting of hands-on assistance with ADLs and/or supervision and monitoring.
  • Lack of planning leaves many seniors unprepared for long-term care expenses.
  • People with Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive impairments should begin planning for long-term care as soon as possible. If you have not planned for long-term care for yourself or an aging parent, you are not alone, and it is not too late to start planning for long-term care needs.

Plan for Long-Term Care

Since we cannot predict the future, planning gives us the opportunity to explore our options in advance. Medicaid Asset Protection Planning can be started while your loved one is still able to make legal and financial decisions, or can be initiated by an adult child acting as agent under a properly-drafted Power of Attorney, even if your loved one is already in a nursing home or receiving other long-term care.

Generally, the earlier someone plans for long-term care needs, the better. But, fortunately, it is never too late to begin your planning.

To afford the catastrophic costs of long-term care without depleting all of your loved one’s hard-earned assets, your mother-in-law should begin her Long-Term Care Planning as soon as possible. You should also do Incapacity Planning and Estate Planning, if you haven’t done so already. Please call the Farr Law Firm to make an appointment for an initial consultation!

Hope this helps!




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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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