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Long-Term Care The Impact of the Elderly Providing accessible affordable and high-quality long-term care services to an aging population presents a growing challenge to long-term care providers As the oldest members of the baby boom generation approach retirement federal and state policy makers are exploring policies to care for the increasing number of elderly and to finance expanding long-term care needs Other concerns include how to provide an adequate mix of institutional care and home and community-based services and how to monitor the quality of services delivered in these settings Long term care refers to a wide range of supportive medical personal and social services for people limited in their ability to function independently and to perform every day activities whether due to chronic illness injury or aging Campbell Currently more than 12 million people 66 million of whom are elderly receive long-term care assistance Campbell Of elderly long-term care recipients 15 million reside in an institution such as a nursing home and the remainders receive care in their homes or communities Compared with the rest of the population long-term care users are disproportionately female low income and very old and they live alone or with a relative other than a spouse In general the requirement for long-term care service is measured by the need for assistance in performing basic activities of daily living such as eating bathing and dressing Stone The likelihood of needing long-term care increases with age and the elderly population is growing Population aging reflects high birthrates between 1946 and 1964 improvements in medical care and a longer life expectancy People age 85 and older make up the fastest-growing population projected to increase from four million in 2000 to 145 million in 2040 Stone While future demand for long-term care services may exceed supply providers have difficulty meeting even the current needs Despite all of the long-term care options available many older people face significant barriers to obtaining these services Medicaid
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