Long-term care has “quietly” become a national crisis for America’s seniors. We say “quietly,” as our elected political leaders, entrusted with our best interests; are not doing enough to address our true health care needs. Any discussion of health care must also include an extensive discussion of long-term care for America’s seniors. Considering the health care necessities of every American senior today, our political leaders are focused elsewhere.
The good news is that we have a presidential election in 2020, and our candidates each have proposed their own solutions for America’s health care needs. However, the candidates have not proposed realistic solutions for the lack of adequate long-term care services, starting with the supply of nursing homes and other care facilities for America’s senior citizens.
(Related: Sorry, No Room for Your Mom)
Fact: 72% of all people ages 65 or over will spend time at home needing long-term care assistance for two more activities of daily living (ADLs). (The ADL list includes bathing, dressing, continence, eating, toileting and transferring.)
Fact: The number of nursing homes in the United States is shrinking at the worst imaginable time. Over a recent nine-year period, the number of nursing homes fell 4%, to to 15,640. At the very same time, there was an enormous 56% reduction — from 1,043 to 463 — in the number of facilities accepting Medicaid.
Fact: Almost 10,000 Americans are turning age 65 every day. What’s even more startling is that roughly 70% of America’s seniors will need some type of long-term care. That’s why today, more than 45 million Americans have had their lifestyle turned “upside down,” by a need to care for elderly family members, according to AARP.
Fact: 70% of Americans rely on public sources such as Medicaid to cover long-term care services. By 2030, less than ten years from today, there will be 72 million Americans over age 65 (20% of the U.S. population). What’s even more disturbing is that an estimated 80% of these folks have not done any research on aging issues and long-term care planning.
Fact: “By the year 2050, there will be 18,000 more seniors who need nursing home care than there will be beds to house them,” according to AssistedLivingToday.com.
The good news is that, with improvements in medical care, it’s wonderful that Americans are living longer lives today than ever before. A married couple at age 65 today can expect that one spouse will live to age 90. Regrettably, the bad news is that while we’re living longer, we also face the greater likelihood of needing long- term care services.
Fact: Medicaid is the primary payor for long-term care services in the United States and is on very shaky ground. A recent article in The Boston Globe titled ‘Medicaid Rule Could Be Costly in Massachusetts’ stated that, “CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] said that the national Medicaid program grew from $456 billion in 2013 to an estimated $576 billion in 2016, with a disproportionate share of the growth falling on the federal government, whose share climbed to $363 billion.” (A three-year increase of 26% is what I would term “unworldly.” I can’t imagine any commercial business in the United States being able to continually sustain losses in revenue, year after year, and still stay in business. The good news here is that the federal government can continue to stay in business by “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” without any one entity being held accountable.)
Are you aware that by the year 2030, projections show there will be 15 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease? If we’re currently having trouble taking care of 1.5 million elderly people today, how can we possibly take care of 15 million people in the not too distant future? Who’s going to provide care for those 15 million people? No one, based on our current long-term care system.