As the American population continues to age rapidly, a larger and larger segment of the population has a set of needs to which they and society are not especially used to dealing. Two reports from MetLife’s Mature Market Institute examine two important aspects of those needs: adult day care and long term care. (MetLife Survey) (MetLife Report) Adult day services centers have become increasingly significant providers to the elderly who are struggling to manage their lives. There are 4600 of these centers servicing about 260,000 seniors and their caregivers. These centers provide important relief to family members who have difficulty juggling their own needs and those of a parent.
Most of these centers have nursing professionals available, and about half have a social worker and provide physical, occupational or speech therapy. They often provide continuity of care following hospital discharges. These centers have the potential to be important providers of chronic disease management. Most of these centers are non-profit, but about a quarter are for-profit. Medicaid and other public programs pay over half of the aggregate revenue for the centers. For another set of the elderly, nursing homes become either a default because there are not family members or others who can care for them in their homes or a necessity because their health condition requires constant attention. The long-term care industry faces many challenges, including inadequate reimbursement to provide decent living conditions, and the cost of long-term care for those who can’t pay themselves is severely burdening state budgets.
The average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home is $83,585 and a semi-private one is $72,270. It doesn’t take much math to figure out how much total cost is being created as the population ages and demand soars for nursing homes. If the person needs special care, such as Alzheimer’s patients do, the costs can be significantly higher. The system is becoming two-tiered, with relatively well-off individuals able to afford nicer, private facilities and the less well-off being placed in less attractive, often public facilities. While there isn’t a lot of discussion of the topic, given our other significant health cost problems, the growth of the population is going to jump this issue to a top concern very soon.