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High Risk Factors for Long Term Care

Discover key risk factors for long-term care needs and proactive strategies to manage health and support quality of life.

High Risk Factors for Long Term Care
An elderly man writing on a piece of document.

Understanding long term care is vital for many as they age, particularly for those with increased risk factors for requiring such services. Long term care includes various supports and services tailored to meet the personal care needs of individuals who find daily activities challenging due to aging, illness, or disability. With demographic trends indicating a rising demand for long term care services, it becomes increasingly important to be informed about the risk factors associated with long term care.

This article examines the nature of long term care, the factors that typically qualify people for these services, and the conditions that contribute to an elevated risk for long term care needs. It highlights several risk factors, including lifestyle choices, Alzheimer's and dementia, injuries, and longevity, that could influence the likelihood of needing long term care.

Moreover, the content discusses general ways that might help in understanding and potentially addressing risks early on. Recognizing the significance of being informed and making health-conscious choices may play a role in an individual's future long term care considerations. Readers are encouraged to seek tailored advice from healthcare and financial professionals to develop a plan that best fits their personal situation.

Understanding Long Term Care

Long term care encompasses a variety of services and supports aimed at assisting those who face challenges performing daily activities due to aging, illness, or disability, according to the National Institute on Aging. This range of services includes help with activities like bathing, dressing, and eating, and extends to medical and nursing care. It can be administered in diverse environments, from an individual's home to adult day care centers, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.

The principal objective of long term care is to enhance or maintain the quality of life of an individual, promote their autonomy, and address their evolving care needs over time. The specific type of care someone may require depends on various factors such as their health status, personal preferences, and the resources they have at their disposal. Therefore, crafting a plan for long term care is an essential step to ensure tailored care and support are provided.

The costs associated with long term care can be significant, and individuals often utilize a mix of personal savings, government aid, and insurance to finance these expenses, notes the California Department of Insurance. It is suggested that individuals explore their options and assess their resources when considering how to prepare for potential long term care expenditures.

Being aware of the risk factors linked to long term care and understanding general strategies to potentially lessen these risks could contribute to reducing the probability of needing such care, as well as bolstering overall health and well-being.

Determining Eligibility for Long Term Care

The criteria for qualifying for long term care generally involve an individual’s functional and cognitive limitations, which may result from various health conditions, injuries, or aging processes (ASPE). Healthcare professionals typically evaluate a person's ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) and cognitive function to establish eligibility for long term care services.

Individuals who require assistance with ADLs or who experience cognitive impairments that impede their daily function might be considered for long term care services (ASPE). The specific services and level of care needed are based on an individual’s particular requirements, with healthcare professionals conducting assessments to determine appropriate care and support.

Financial assistance eligibility for long term care, such as that provided by Medicaid, is subject to state-specific criteria that consider income, assets, and care needs (Senior Planning). It's important to refer to state guidelines to understand Medicaid eligibility. Likewise, long term care insurance policies have distinct eligibility requirements, which necessitate a review of the policy details to comprehend the coverage provided.

Understanding the Implications of an Increased Risk for Long Term Care

An increased risk of long term care suggests that there is a higher probability that a person may require long term care services during their lifetime due to various factors such as age, health status, lifestyle, or family history (University of Minnesota). This likelihood carries important considerations for individuals and their families in terms of preparing for potential costs and coordinating the logistics of long term care.

Awareness of your potential risk for long term care may lead to discussions and considerations about the future. Planning ahead can play a role in addressing the provision of necessary care and support, and may also influence the financial and emotional planning associated with long term care.

It should be noted that an increased risk does not ensure that long term care services will be required. Awareness, however, can be beneficial in understanding your situation and may inform individuals about general health and wellness considerations, which can be beneficial regardless of whether long term care is eventually needed.

Understanding Factors That May Influence the Need for Long Term Care

Several elements may contribute to an increased possibility of requiring long term care, including lifestyle habits, the presence of conditions such as Alzheimer's and dementia, the occurrence of injuries, and longevity. Awareness of these factors can inform individuals about aspects that might influence the need for long term care.

  1. Lifestyle Choices

Certain lifestyle choices have been associated with health outcomes that could impact the need for long term care (GoldenCare). For instance, chronic conditions and functional limitations, which may necessitate long term care, have correlations with diet, exercise habits, smoking, and alcohol use. Additionally, social engagement and mental health are factors that might affect long-term care considerations, as social isolation has been observed to correlate with health declines in older adults.

  1. Alzheimer's and Dementia

Cognitive conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, are significant factors that may lead to the need for long-term care due to cognitive and functional impairments (National Institute on Aging). Although no cure exists for these conditions, research suggests that certain interventions may help manage symptoms and support quality of life, underscoring the importance of medical support and resource utilization for affected individuals.

  1. Injury

Injuries from incidents like falls can precipitate a need for long-term care due to the potential for serious health complications (University of Minnesota). The occurrence of such injuries and their impact on long-term care requirements can vary widely, with older adults often being more susceptible to serious consequences from falls.

  1. Longevity

The increase in life expectancy brings about higher probabilities of encountering chronic health issues and functional declines that can lead to a need for long term care (ASPE). Acknowledging the complexities of aging can guide individuals in considering health maintenance throughout their lives.

Options for Managing the Possibility of Long Term Care Needs

Individuals may consider a variety of strategies to manage their long-term health and care needs:

  1. Healthy Living Choices: Research indicates that regular physical activity and a balanced diet are associated with better overall health. Choices such as avoiding smoking and moderating alcohol consumption have also been linked to a decreased risk of certain chronic conditions (GoldenCare).
  2. Preventive Health Measures: Studies suggest that regular health check-ups and screenings can facilitate the early detection of health issues, which might support timely medical intervention.
  3. Home Safety: There is evidence that modifications for home safety can play a role in reducing the risk of injuries, such as falls, which are a common cause of long-term care needs.
  4. Cognitive and Social Engagement: Engaging in activities that support mental and social well-being might contribute to maintaining cognitive health, with some research pointing to a connection between such engagement and reduced risk of cognitive decline (National Institute on Aging).
  5. Long Term Care Planning: Planning for potential long-term care needs can involve exploring financial planning and insurance options. Resources such as Waterlily are available to help individuals understand potential future needs and considerations (California Department of Insurance).
  6. Professional Consultations: For personalized assessment and planning, some individuals seek advice from healthcare professionals, financial advisors, or long-term care specialists to discuss their specific situation.

Each of these strategies is supported by varying degrees of research and may be considered by individuals looking to manage their health and potential care needs proactively.


In understanding the risk factors associated with long-term care, individuals may find value in being informed about these risks. Knowledge of these factors can contribute to a more informed perspective on the potential for needing long-term care and the duration such care might be required. Engaging in preventive care and considering lifestyle choices are strategies some may find beneficial for their health outlook.

With the projected increase in chronic health conditions, the relevance of long-term care services is expected to rise. An awareness of the risk factors linked to long-term care needs can inform individuals and families as they approach long-term care planning, with the goal of securing appropriate support throughout their lives.

Evan Ehrenberg profile image Evan Ehrenberg
After graduating from UC Berkeley at 16, Evan became the MIT's youngest neuroscience Ph.D. Evan founded Clara Health in 2015 and joined Waterlily to lead compliance and integration in 2022.