The majority of Americans in their late 50s and early 60s will spend time in a nursing home, a new study warns.
Research by the Rand Corporation has found that 56 percent of people in the United States aged 57 to 61 will spend at least one night in a nursing home.
The number is far higher than previously thought, experts warn, as earlier studies suggested only 35 percent would need care in a home.
One reason for the jump might be that short stays – defined as 21 nights or less – are much more common now than they have been in recent decades.
The researchers warn the study should be a red flag for baby boomers – and younger generations – to plan for the future responsibly, considering the average total that a person spends on nursing home care is $7,300 a person.
A new study has found that 56 percent of people aged 57 to 61 will end up in a nursing home (file photo)
The study’s researchers looked at data that spanned 18 years to determine the likelihood a baby boomer has of ending up in a nursing home and it also analyzed home much nursing home care will cost them.
While it found that the average length of a nursing home stay was 272 nights, the study also reported that the amount of short stays has jumped from 28 percent in 1998 to 34 percent 12 years later in 2010.
Study author Michael Hurd said this could be because, in order to lower Medicare and Medicaid costs, patients are now discharged from hospitals to nursing homes more quickly.
The reason for this is that rehabilitation costs at nursing homes are lower.
But for 10 percent of people who stayed in a nursing home that number of nights jumped to more than 1,000.
UNREPORTED ABUSE IS RAMPANT IN NURSING HOMES IN THE US
A new study found that more than one in four cases involving sexual and physical abuse against nursing home patients go unreported.
The top four states with the largest number of incidents were Illinois, Michigan, Texas and California.
Nursing home patients are often not taken seriously when they report abuse because they are considered forgetful or unreliable.
The recent study blamed Medicare for failing to enforce a federal law that requires nursing homes to report abuse immediately.
About 1.4 million people living in the US are in nursing homes and care quality is a growing problem.
Incidents of abuse, assault and neglect are common.
And as the length of time one stays in a nursing home grows, the amount they will pay for their care skyrockets.
The study said around one-third of the people spend money on nursing homes while for 43 percent, the costs are completely covered by either private or public insurance.
The average total for nursing home care was $7,3000 per person, but five percent of people who needed long stays spent close to $50,000 dollars or more.
And though many think that having children means that they will be cared for by a family member in their old age, the study proved that parents have just as good a chance of being in a nursing home as childless people.
However, having a child does have the potential to reduce the cost one pays for nursing home care as well as the length of time one stays in the nursing home.
The study’s conclusions point to the possibility that, because modern medicine is keeping people alive longer, the percent of people who will at some point be in a nursing home will steadily increase.
Hurd said that this should wake up policymakers who are focused on government-subsidized health care.
He said that Medicaid is bearing the weight of the facts presented by the study.
‘People think of Medicaid as being for the indigent, which is true at younger ages,’ Hurd said.
‘But Medicaid is the most important payer for nursing homes, covering a greater proportion of costs than individuals and families pay out-of-pocket.
‘At older ages, Medicaid is an insurance program that many of us may need to use,’ Hurd said.
He also pointed out that only 11 to 12 percent of individuals in their early 60s have long-term care insurance.
Many people choose not to get long-term care insurance because of uncertainties: they do not know what the insurer will pay for, what the coverage will entail or how much it will end up costing them.
Hurd said the fact that long-term care insurance is not popular reinstates Medicaid’s purpose.
‘People should be prepared to use the societally provided insurance, which is Medicaid,’ Hurd said.
‘It’s the best of a not-very-good situation.’