November is National Home Care and Hospice Month

Posted on: November 5th, 2013 by lighthouseadmin No Comments

An excerpt from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice

Home is the Center of Health Care

Home care and hospice are poised to play a key role in coming years. A wide range of forces is joining to push care away from nursing homes and drive it toward home and community-based care. Based on demography and dollars, experts agree that the destiny of health care lies in the home. The first of the 78 million baby boomers turned 65 last year, and the rest of the boomers will reach their golden years in the next two decades, making health care dollars grow even scarcer. As the silver tsunami sweeps on, the most important trend in health care is the shift from hospitals and nursing homes to home care, from treatment to proactive monitoring and care.

Home care is not just the preferred choice for most patients; it’s also the best bang for our health care dollars. It costs Medicare nearly $2,000 per day for a typical hospital stay and $559 per day for a typical nursing home stay. Meanwhile, home care costs just $44 a day on average.

Golden opportunities are there for those who provide this cost-effective care, and investors are betting on it, the Wall Street Journal recently observed. Home care and hospice are driving much of the investment in health services as Americans turn away from nursing home care. The occupancy rate at nursing homes has dropped since 2009, while the number of patients receiving hospice services has grown at a steady rate. And some hospice programs have begun to expand their offerings as more boomers choose the services they provide. Business is also booming in private duty home care. It’s now one of the most profitable franchises in the country, and much of the demand comes from those 65 and up. More families now have adults who both work, so there’s no one to stay home with an aging parent.

In coming decades, there will be even fewer caregivers, said a recent report from AARP. According to the study, potential caregivers will be in much shorter supply starting in 2026 when the first boomers turn 80. The causes of this impending care gap lie in well-known trends including longer life spans, smaller families, more divorces among those 50 and older, more people who never had children, and rising rates of disability associated with the obesity epidemic.

They’re all demographic shifts that translate into disturbing data. The number of frail older people over 65 is expected to increase from 11 million in 2010 to 18 million in 2030, the report notes. The percentage of frail older people who are childless is expected to rise from 14 to 18 percent during this period, and the ratio of frail, older people who have only one or two adult children is expected to increase from 38 to 49 percent. Most of these aging boomers will want to remain in their homes, but they may not be able to count on their families for long-term care when it’s needed.

But they can count on home care combined with technology to help them age in place. Technology now helps the many U.S. seniors who live at home to stay independent, enrich their lives, and keep in touch with those they love. Telehealth and activity monitors promote out-of-hospital care for chronic patients and solutions for healthy aging. Digital consults with doctors and nurses help patients to self-manage their care. And online social networks empower people to keep learning, working, and staying engaged in the communities where they live.

Senior Lady Holding Hands with Young WomanCombining high tech with a warm human touch helps seniors stay in their homes even longer. So many agencies now allow patients and family members to choose their own home health aides. This growing trend helps patients and aides form genuine bonds, so families have peace of mind that their loved ones are in good hands. It helps ensure that caregivers can join fully in patients’ lives, whether this involves running errands, going with them to the doctor, or assisting them with medical conditions. It also means that someone is there to provide seniors with company and conversation. Many aides are more than caregivers for their patients. They also become friends, and almost family. They’re among the reasons why home care is poised to a key role in coming years as the center of health care in our country.

The full article and other resources can be found at:

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