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Friday, September 28, 2007

Fewer in Nursing Homes - Home Health Services Increasing

I read two articles showing trends that are related. "Fewer Seniors Live in Nursing Homes" at USA Today says that about 7.4% of seniors 75 years old and older lived in nursing homes in 2006, down from 8.1% in 2000 and 10.2% in 1990. The other article, titled "In Home Health Care Services Increasing" at Medical News Today discusses "a new kind of medical practice is flourishing nationwide that offers to go where the patients treat ailments."

In 2006 less than 16% of the population aged 85 years or more lived in nursing home facilities, according to the article in USA Today. These statistics refer to nursing homes, but do not include assisted care facilities. A nursing home, or skilled nursing facility, has licensed nurses while an assisted care facility does not require employees to be medically licensed.

According to Met Life Insurance Company said the cost of a nursing home runs from $67,000 to $100,000.

The article said the average resident in a nursing home runs out of money within 6 months and must go on Medicaid, according the CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Sandy Markwood. She explained this will bankrupt the individuals and the Medicaid system.

An article with a related trend discussed the increase in home health care services. At Medical News Today the article discusses a company called Inn House Doctor, founded by Walter Krause, which has 40 doctors who provide appointments in the home.

Rich Kellerman, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said in the article, "We have that perfect storm. The current system doesn't work well...More doctors are coming up with home practice models."

In my area, San Luis Obispo County, California, USA, there are not very many doctors who make house calls, but there are a few who are available and specialize in house calls. As a caregiver I have assisted seniors several times who are on programs with local doctors who make house calls. For a frail senior, when leaving the home is very difficult, having a doctor come to the home makes a big difference. I have also known doctors who make calls for appointments with seniors at residential care facilities.

Fewer seniors in nursing homes and an increase in home health care, and in home care (nonmedical assistance) reflect growing trends. Community based services continue to grow, and the majority of seniors say they prefer to avoid going to a nursing home.

With the aging of the population, and boomer generation coming along next, the needs and preferences of the future elderly seniors will continue to change senior care trends.

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