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By Olivia Burns, HHS Aging Texas Well Coordinator

Long-term care describes a spectrum of services and supports that help meet a person’s health or personal care needs. Research suggests that about half of the people age 65 and older will need long-term care at some point in their lives.

Long-term Services and Supports (LTSS) are provided in a variety of settings, including the home, the community and residential facilities.

LTSS can include assistance with personal care, such as bathing and dressing, and assistance with health care, such as medical services ordered by a physician. LTSS can also help with other needs, including home-delivered and congregate meals, transportation and group social activities.

LTSS can also be provided in residential facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Nursing homes provide health and personal care in clinical setting, while assisted living facilities provide personal care in a more home-like setting.

It’s important to start planning for any future long-term care that you may need. Steps to take include:

• Learn what services are available and determine what might fit your needs. Given the variety of LTSS, it is helpful to have a good understanding of what services and resources are available before you may need them. Planning also provides options should you need a higher or lower level of care than you initially expected. Visit the Eldercare Locator webpage or call 800-677-1116 for more information. You can also compare different types of LTSS providers on the Medicare webpage..

• Identify how you will pay for care. Unfortunately, long-term care can be expensive. There are free and low-cost LTSS options, but many are limited or have specific eligibility requirements. Medicare and private insurance plans will cover certain services and some people offset costs by purchasing long-term care insurance. A benefits counselor at your local area agency on aging (AAA) can help you understand your benefits options. Call 800-252-9240 to reach your local AAA and speak with a benefits counselor.

• Make sure your care preferences are understood. Planning for your long-term care is a great way to share with your loved ones your health care preferences. The Texas Talks campaign helps make these conversations more comfortable. Access the campaign’s information and guided worksheets to help start the conversation.

Planning now for your future long-term care needs can help you learn what is available, determine how you will pay for services and make sure your loved ones know your wishes. This printable resource has comprehensive information on Texas’ long-term care services and provides space to add personal information all in one place to help in your planning.

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