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How much long-term care will really be needed?

One of the most fundamental questions about long-term care is quite simple: How much care are you going to need? The answer to this question helps define the amount of money you'll need, the specific steps you want to take, and how soon you should get the plan in place.

The problem, though, is that the answer is different for everyone, and it often depends largely on specific circumstances that can't be predicted. If you get a serious disease, you'll need far more care than a relatively healthy person of the same age, but you can't know what will happen years or decades in advance.

That being said, there are a few key trends that you should note, which can help with this process:

-- Men usually need care for about 2.2 years. Women, though, need it for almost twice as long, with an average of 3.7 years.

-- Twenty percent of the people who are 65 or older right now will require care for at least five years, and a full 70 percent will need some sort of care--though perhaps not for that long.

-- Sixty-five percent of people choose care that they can receive at home, at least for a time.

-- Thirty-seven percent of people will spend some time in a nursing home or assisted living center.

-- Home care lasts for an average of two years, while care in a center lasts for an average of just one year.

It is usually the best option to plan for the worst-case scenario, even if that level of care is never needed, and residents of New York must know what steps to take to do so.

Source: Longtermcare.gov, "How Much Care Will You Need?," accessed Oct. 28, 2015

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