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Long term care market reached $305 billion in U.S.

Staff writer |
The long term care market reached $305 billion dollars in 2015, according to Kalorama Information. Due to the aging of the population, this is not surprising.

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A driving factor in the aging of the population is the increase in life expectancy. In 1900, life expectancy was 47 years. In 1996, U.S. life expectancy at birth was 76.1 years - 73 years for men and 79 years for women.

By 2013, however, average life expectancy had reached an all time high of 78.7 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report notes that as the U.S. population as a whole becomes more ethnically diverse, so will the elderly population.

The report noted that most elderly men are married, while most elderly women are not. Based on population figures for both sexes, while elderly men are about twice as likely as elderly women to be married and living with their spouses, elderly women are three times as likely as elderly men to be widowed.

Therefore, due to numbers of men compared with women over the age of 65, most elderly men have a spouse to act as caregiver when they need assistance, while most elderly women do not. Also, elderly women are much more likely than men are to live alone.

Although it is estimated that two out of five Americans will need long-term care at some point in their lives, many cannot afford it.

Residential nursing care is the most expensive, at more than $250 per day for a semi-private room in 2015, according to the annual Genworth survey, but assisted living can also be pricey, with monthly costs exceeding $3,600 in many facilities just for basic care.

Although home care is more affordable, at $20 per hour or less in many areas, individuals who require care that is more extensive can quickly incur charges of $1,500 or more per month.

This contrasts with relatively low household incomes for elderly persons - the estimated median household income for householders aged 65 and over was just $32,000 in 2015, with Social Security payments comprising a large portion of this.

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