Speaker(s): Sam Gutterman
As populations age over the next decades, the demand for long-term care (LTC) services will increase dramatically and is likely to reach crisis levels in many countries. Historical methods for providing and financing LTC may not be adequate.
This paper addresses key issues, including the use of LTC services, alternative approaches used globally to provide services, and methods of financing LTC services and mitigating costs. It discusses the key factors in and potential solutions for sustainable and coordinated LTC programs and services.
Demographic and cultural changes suggest that the amount of financial and human resources needed to provide LTC will increase substantially, while support and financing may be difficult to obtain.
The manner care is provided, changes in infrastructure, technological applications, program design and public policies should focus on promoting healthier lifestyles, responsive to the needs of the elderly and encouraging more social interaction to enhance quality of life and reduce costs.
Informal caregivers (family, friends and community) often experience substantial financial and non-financial stress. Nevertheless, this traditional source of providing care will remain important, both to provide a more comfortable environment and to help control costs, although the supply of informal caregivers may reduce over the coming decades. In addition, there is a global shortage of formally trained LTC workers, which should be addressed though appropriate recruitment, training, and retention policies.
To effectively achieve optimal coverage so that no one is left behind, minimum mandatory social benefits may be needed, supplemented by private savings and insurance and public, charity and other community programs. In most cases a comprehensive and coordinated system of benefits and services will be better than silo-structured approaches to various population segments.
Public and private cooperation, including retirement, healthcare and LTC programs, will be necessary to successfully provide and finance LTC services for all population segments.