Planning for Long-Term Care

Care is expensive and 70% of Washingtonians will need it at some point in their lives. Here are some resources to help you get started with planning for your future care needs.

why do people need long-term care?


Long-term care is a range of services and supports for individuals who need assistance with the tasks of daily living. The need for care may be temporary or permanent, depending on the person’s condition, and it can be provided in your home or a residential care setting. Long-term care is not medical care and it’s typically not covered by health insurance or Medicare.

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Prolonged illness

Chronic illness can occur at any point in life

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Injury or disability

Whether due to an accident, neurological condition, or other reason

Cognitive Function

Cognitive impairment

This can range from dementia to many other conditions

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Physical impairment

This can include loss of strength, mobility, or trouble balancing

Your Options for Long-Term Care

Start by asking yourself: where do you want care?


Knowing ahead of time how you would prefer to receive care can help you and your loved ones make good decisions when you need it. People may receive long-term care from a loved one or a professional caregiver, at home or in a residential care setting. Beginning in July 2026, if you need care and have met contribution requirements, the WA Cares Fund will be able to help you access these services.

Care in Your Home

If you prefer to receive care in your own home (as many of us do!), you can bring in various services and caregivers to make that possible. This allows you to remain independent and stay in your community. It also helps your benefits go further.
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Individual providers

  • Trained individual caregivers (not employed by an agency) who come to your home to provide care


Paid family caregivers

  • Through programs like WA Cares and Medicaid, family members can get paid to provide care (often as individual providers)
  • With WA Cares, spouses can become a paid family caregiver
  • Sometimes a more comfortable option given the existing personal relationship


Home modifications

  • Home safety evaluations can help you understand how to make your home safer and more accessible
  • Install wheelchair ramps, grab bars, or other make other safety modifications to your home 

Home care agencies

  • Agencies that recruit, train, pay, supervise, and are responsible for the care provided by the aide they send to your home


Home-delivered meals

  • Organizations can coordinate the delivery of meals to your home so you don’t have to worry about cooking for yourself
  • Get nutritious or prescription meals delivered to help maintain a healthy diet


Assistive devices

  • Wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers can aide independent mobility
  • Other technology supports include medication reminder tools, personal emergency response systems, and more
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Residential Care

Residential care or communal living facilities provide care in a more social environment, and there is the added convenience of having amenities and services (such as meals) on site. As you plan for your future care, you can consider different types of facilities that provide levels of care based on your needs.
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Adult family homes

  • Regular neighborhood homes where staff assumes responsibility for the safety and well-being of residents. 
  • Live in a home environment with two to eight residents
  • Covered by WA Cares


Nursing homes

  • Provide 24-hour supervised nursing care, personal care, therapy, nutrition management, organized activities, social services, room, board, and laundry
  • Covered by WA Cares


Memory care facilities

  • Facility focused on the early stage treatment for dementia, Alzheimer’s or any condition resulting in memory loss
  • Can exist within assisted living facilities or standalone facilities
  • Receive specialized care
  • Covered by WA Cares

Assisted living facilities

  • Facilities in a community setting where staff assumes responsibility for the safety and well-being of the residents
  • Live in your own apartment or room with around-the-clock care available
  • Covered by WA Cares


Independent living retirement communities 

  • A housing arrangement designed exclusively for older adults, generally those aged 55 and over 
  • The housing is friendlier to aging adults, often being more compact, with easier navigation and no maintenance or yard work to worry about
  • Not covered by WA Cares


Continuing care retirement communities

  • Delivers independent living and an amenity-rich lifestyle with access to onsite higher-level care should medical needs progress
  • This continuum of care ensures residents have the stability of remaining in the place they call home
  • Not covered by WA Cares
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Care Stories

Planning Checklist

There are some steps you can take to plan for your long-term care. We've provided a checklist below to help you prepare. 

1 Do your research


There are lots of pieces to long-term care planning. Read advice from experts and advocates to find out what best suits your needs.


Care planning resources


2 Plan your finances


Long term care can be expensive and WA Cares benefits may not cover all of your needs. You may want to purchase supplemental private insurance or save for additional needs you may have. 



3 Talk to your family & support network


Being open with your family or keeping careful documentation about your finances and expectations before you need care can help prevent surprises later on.



4 Get familiar with existing support programs


The U.S. Senate Committee on Aging has put together this explainer booklet with resources. This can be a great place to start learning about Social Security, Social Security Disability, Medicare and 401(K) retirement plans. While these programs generally do not provide long-term care, they are important parts of your broader retirement planning.



5 Document a plan


Create a living document (including a will) so everyone who is part of your network has an understanding of your wishes. You can also use it to track tasks you may need to do like set up a Power of Attorney or advance care directives. 


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