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Fewer Elderly US Residents Live In Nursing Homes

Armen Hareyan's picture

Nursing Homes

About 7.4% of U.S. residents ages 75 and older lived in nursing homesin 2006, compared with 8.1% in 2000 and 10.2% in 1990, according todata released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, USA Today reports. According to USA Today, the trend reflects the improved health of older adults and more health care choices for the elderly.

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The National Nursing Home Surveyshows that nursing home residents ages 85 and older in 2006 accountedfor less than 16% of the total number of senior residents, comparedwith more than 21% in 1985. Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institutionsaid, "The upper-income white population has other options than nursinghomes," adding, "They're moving to assisted living or their well-off,baby boomer children are taking care of them in other ways." The Censusdata do not include information on assisted-living facilities.

Elise Bolda, director of the Community Partnership for Older Adults program at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,said, "There's no federal definition of assisted living, and that's avoid in the data." Senior health care is a significant policy issue inthe U.S. as the number of people ages 65 and older by 2030 is expectedto nearly double to 71 million, USA Today reports. Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging,said, "Given the high cost of nursing home care coupled with olderadults' desire to age at home, communities will need to ramp up theavailability of home and community-based service options." She added,"If you can keep people in that 65-to-74 age group out of nursing homefacilities, it's a significant improvement."

According to the2006 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home and Home Care Costs, theestimated average cost of living in a nursing home is between $67,000and $100,000 annually. Markwood said nursing home residents typicallyuse all of their money within six months and then must enroll inMedicaid, which will "not only bankrupt individuals but also theMedicaid system" (El Nasser, USA Today, 9/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.