Anyone, at any age, may require long-term care.
- Christopher Reeve needed long-term care because of an accident.
- President Ronald Reagan suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and required extensive care.
- The late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis required long-term care in her extended battle with lymphoma.
Well-known people, such as Michael J. Fox, Montel Williams and former Attorney General Janet Reno, have developed chronic diseases and may all need long-term care for many years.
These are the most visible examples of how a debilitating disease can strike any of us.
Think about any people that you know who have needed personal care and assistance due to a chronic health condition.
As we age, a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors (such as poor diet, lack of adequate exercise, smoking, environmental pollutants, and physical or psychological stress) make us more vulnerable to disease.
Living a busy and active lifestyle creates more risk of accidental physical injury. Yet, active people in good health have greater longevity now than ever before. Preventative medical care, modern medical technology, and new medications help prevent and control diseases that in the past were often fatal.
People are living longer, but all too often with chronic debilitating conditions. The unfortunate downside of living longer translates into a greater likelihood, due to advanced age, of developing a condition requiring some form of assistance.
Today, short-term fatal illnesses are mostly limited to undetected or poorly controlled heart disease, rapidly progressing cancer, massive stroke, or rare events such as an aneurysm.
The major chronic conditions that may affect us are chronic heart disease, chronic pulmonary disease, cancer, debilitating arthritis, and complications of diabetes.
There are also, neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis, fractures from osteoporosis, strokes (resulting in paralysis), Alzheimer’s disease and accidents.
And let’s not forget, becoming frail due to advancing age may be the most significant reason why people need assistance.