The US Dept or Health and Human Services published data about the average time in care (see:

Their data indicate that Men’s length of time in long term care lasts about 2.2 years. Women’s average time is 3.7 years (because women tend to out live their husbands so they pay for care earlier and thus longer).

The stats also say that about 15% of cases will last nearly 5 years and 5% of cases will last longer than 5 years. Further, these time windows in care slowly creep up as life is preserved longer and longer in the USA.

So here is what we normally recommend: plan around the average, unless…

1) Your family has a pattern of care that indicates longer. Families that have a known medical condition running thru the generations (such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc) will need to plan for a longer window of care or even have a back-up strategy to protect assets permanently as really long runs of long term care can be catastrophic on finances.

2) You currently engage in hobbies or behaviors that have a high risk of accident damage. Folks who race motor vehicles or bicycles, sky dive, or regularly engage in other such high risk activities, may want to plan longer as well. A damage spine or head injury can put you in care for years and years and years.

3) You historically engaged in sports activities with high concussion rates or have had a long-running history of anxiety or depression. The research is becoming clear that whether you have brain trauma due to concussion or more subtle damage from mental stresses, the brain can have long ranging challenges with memory and cognition as you age. If you have a history of either of these, you have a higher risk of memory-based care as you age.

No one can predict with certainty whether you will or will not be in care. Right now 70% of all seniors will end up in long term care before they die. 40% will die in less than a year. The rest will range from 1 year upwards. So while you may hope you are in the 30% of people that simply die quickly, the vast majority of us need a plan for long term care.




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