While medical care costs in retirement often are listed as one of the major threats to a retiree’s financial security, the prospect of becoming disabled and needing long-term care often poses an even greater risk, according to information provided to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Seven out of 10 persons who reach age 65 will eventually need some type of long-term care support or services, and one out of five will need such care for five or more years, according to testimony at a hearing.

In many cases, such care is provided by family members, possibly with help from friends, but that can create “significant financial, physical, and emotional burdens for their helpers. About 53 percent of people caring for their frail parents are employed full time, and another 10 percent are employed part time. About 11 percent of children caring for parents are ages 30 to 39, a life-course stage when many people are raising young children. Another 68 percent of caregivers are in their 40s and 50s, ages when many people still have dependent children at home.”

For caregivers who are employed, most report that they sometimes have to go to work late, leave early, or take time off to attend to their care duties, and some have to take a leave of absence.

“However, increasing numbers of older Americans will receive home care from paid helpers, especially as family caregivers become less available because future generations of older Americans had fewer children than the current generation and middle-aged women are now working more than in the past,” it said.

For those needing paid home care, the cost averages about $21 an hour.

Nursing home care is even more expensive, and the chances of receiving nursing home care at some point after age 50 exceeds 50 percent. A year of nursing home care in a semi-private room averages about $80,000 nationwide, much higher in some areas.