Health & Wellness

Not your grandmother's long-term care: What you need to know

Long-term care doesn't mean just a nursing home anymore. Now, most people have long-term care at home or in an assisted-living facility. At least 70 percent of us are going to need some form of long-term care. And 80 percent of long-term care in the U.S. is provided by families. And "families don't get paid," Carol Levine, author of "Planning Long-term Care for Dummies," told TODAY. 

This is not your grandmother's long-term care. It goes on for a longer period of time and there are a far wider number of options, including in-home care, assisted-living facilities and private nursing homes, says Levine.

How can we preserve our independence and cut costs? 

Levine and TODAY financial editor Jean Chatzky offered sound advice: 

  • Prevent falls. "Falls are the reason most people end up in a nursing home or other facility," says Levine. You can help prevent that dangerous situation by looking at your parents' home and figuring out how to make the living space more comfortable and accessible. "Those are modest expenses that can make a big difference,” says Levine.
  • Increase retirement fund. "Your retirement will fund your long-term care in a lot of ways," says Chatzky, "so even if you can increase your contribution just 1 or 2 percent a year until you're maxxing out, that is a huge deal."
  • For more from Jean Chatzky on retirement or long-term planning, check out her TODAY Health Facebook chat

Other resources for long-term care: 

United Hospital Fund’s Next Step in Care offers free guides in four languages that help family caregivers navigate the confusing long-term care and health care system, especially through transitions between health care settings

Eldercare Locator is a free service of the federal Administration on Aging that helps you find resources in your community. Or call: 800-677-1116

Nursing Home Compare and Home Health Compare allow you to see how health care providers are doing with meeting federal quality standards

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