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Understanding long-term care

Long-term care is a reality that many people may have to face as they age. Individuals living in New York who are concerned about their long-term care or that of elderly loved ones should have a realistic view of what it entails.

70 percent of people who are 65 years or older will require some degree of day-to-day assistance. Many may only require assistance for just a few weeks or months while others may need it for years. As the population grows older, there will be a growing need for long-term care services.

Not all long-term care will take place in an institutional setting. Almost 80 percent of all long-term care services are provided by family members, for which they are unpaid.

Full-time working women are the ones who typically take on the caregiver role in a family. The unending responsibilities it brings can negatively impact these women's work lives, finances and health.

Long-term care can exact a huge financial toll, even if it is unpaid. The caregiver's working hours outside of the home may be restricted, or she may not be able to obtain the necessary amount of weekly hours to be eligible for retirement benefits. She also may have to use her own funds to pay for food or medical supplies for her elderly relative. According to statistics released by the AARP, family caregivers spend an average of $6,954 a year in out-of-pocket costs. This amount climbs to $11,923 for long-distance caregivers.

An attorney who specializes in elder law may be able to assist someone with long-term care planning for him or herself or an elderly relative. A lawyer may examine a client's situation and advise him or her about the available financial options for paying for in-home nursing care or another long-term care service.

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