Retirees who try to use their own savings to pay for long term care face a wide range of possible outcomes.

Although half of retirees may end up not having to pay anything for long term care, 1% may need to have at least $250,000 set aside and invested at age 65 to pay for their long term care, according to a team of researchers led by Peter Kemper of Pennsylvania State University.

Kemper and his colleagues published a paper on LTC expectations for current U.S. retirees in Inquiry, a health finance journal.

The researchers note that many retirees can expect to get care from family members at home as well as from paid home care providers and residential facilities.

Retirees who are now age 65 can expect to need an average of 3 years of formal and informal long term care before they die, and 20% of 65-year-olds can expect to need more than 5 years of formal and informal care, the researchers write.

For the typical 65-year-old, the risk of needing 5 or more years of long term care is 11% for home care and 5% for nursing home care, the researchers estimate.

The researchers expect private LTC insurance to cover only about 2% of total LTC expenses. Government programs will cover 53% of the expenses, and retirees and relatives will pay the rest of the bills out of their pockets, the researchers warn.