Americans today live longer than their parents did – often two or three decades after retirement. For many, modern medicine's gift of time is a blessing. But when independent living is no longer possible, few elderly people or their families are prepared for the confusing and emotionally wrenching world of long-term care. Despite reforms passed by Congress, nursing homes remain controversial. Moreover, they are too expensive for many people, and the federal Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs provide limited benefits for nursing home care. Although innovative alternatives to nursing homes have emerged in recent years, long-term care remains a costly and complex issue. And the problems are only likely to intensify when the nation's baby boomers enter old age.
(Photo Credit: Linda Bartlett)