What considerations affect my choice of benefit duration?

In selecting your benefit duration, you should consider how long you are likely to need care. For example, an individual with a family history of longevity and Alzheimer’s disease will want a longer benefit duration than an individual whose family members have all died at a somewhat younger age.

Your age when you purchase your coverage will also affect your decision as to benefit duration: the younger you are when you apply, the longer the benefit duration you should consider. A young person (i.e., someone age 50 or less) needs to purchase coverage that will be adequate even if he or she requires care at a young age, perhaps due to an accident, but will still have enough benefits left to address LTC needs later in life.

To date, no comprehensive and integrated study has addressed the question, “How long does the need for long term care last?” However, statistics suggest that an elderly person will spend an average of 2¼ years in a nursing home1 and that family caregivers will care for loved ones in a home setting for 4½ years.2 Therefore, as a general rule, we recommend that a benefit duration of five to seven years is likely adequate for most individuals. However, a lifetime benefit duration will offer even greater peace of mind.

1 Jones AL, Dwyer LL, Bercovitz AR, Strahan GW. The National Nursing Home Survey: 2004 Overview. (National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 13(167). 2009), 11. Internet, July 20, 2010. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_13/sr13_167.pdf.
2 “Caregiving in the U.S. 2009,” (n.p.: National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP, November 2009), 19. Internet, August 17, 2010. Available: http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/il/caregiving_09_fr.pdf.