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Determining the Need for Long-Term Care

Most people do not know if or when they will need long-term care. However, there are several important factors that will help you determine how likely you are to need long-term care at some point in your life.

Risk Factors

Your particular risk of requiring some form of long-term care depends on factors, such as life expectancy, marital status, gender, and overall health.

Life Expectancy

If people in your family live tend to long-lived, you are at a higher risk of requiring long-term care at some point in your life. Obviously, the longer you live, the more likely that some type of care will be necessary to assist you with living comfortably, whether in or out of your home. If you plan on living in your home as long as possible, you may require help.

Marital Status

If you have a spouse and adult children nearby, you are more likely to have informal care available at home if it becomes necessary. Even if you have nearby family members, they may not be able to provide adequate care for you to stay home alone. Assisted living or even a nursing home may become the only viable option, although "villages" and other service providers are allowing more seniors to age-in-place.


Women often provide long-term care for their husbands but find themselves alone when they require care. Half of all women will spend some time in a nursing facility, compared to only one in three men. Almost 80 percent of women age 65 today will need some form of long-term care, compared to fewer than 60 percent of men age 65 today.


If chronic diseases and other debilitating conditions run in your family or if you have already been diagnosed with or treated for certain illnesses, you may be at greater risk of needing long-term care services regardless of age and gender. The greater your chances of getting a chronic illness, the more likely it is that you will require some form of long-term care.