Nursing Home Demographics Changing

The Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report this month entitled “Changes in Characteristics, Needs, and Payment for Care of Elderly Nursing Home Residents: 1999 to 2004.”

The proportion of elderly adults over age 65 in nursing homes has declined over the past two decades, most noticeably in recent years.

Some of the reports findings include:

  • The number of elderly long-stay nursing home residents (90 days or longer) declined from 1.21 million to 1.06 million between 1999 and 2004, while the demographic profile of these residents changed little during the time period;
  • Disease prevalence was higher and multiple conditions were more common among elderly nursing home residents in 2004 compared to 1999 indicating an increasingly sicker population; and
  • Medicaid is the main payer for elderly long-stay residents, accounting for 68% of these residents in 2004.

Two points –

First, the numbers are declining – for now. Fact is with a World Health Ranking of 37 and chronic conditions abounding, people will need these facilities, just not until their 85 or 90. Life lesson – we need to take responsibility for our health.

Second, no surprise that Medicaid is the primary funder. State budgets are bursting because of the Medicaid burden. How long until they start cutting back or pulling out. Look at health care in general, everything is moving toward our pockets. When pundits say consumerism that means more money out of pocket. And maybe that is OK if we take responsibility for it. My advice is that people seriously look at long term care insurance as yet another thing they need in their portfolio of aging with grace materials.