The number of adults 50 years and older in the U.S. is expected to increase more than 70 percent of where it was in the year 2000 to 132 million in total by 2020. The significant increase is attributed to the substantial number of baby boomers reaching their senior years along with the increased longevity of a population living longer than ever before.
As a result, there has never been a greater demand for the hiring of more caregivers to fill the positions require at nursing facilities nationwide. This includes doctors, nurses, nurses’ aides and certified nursing assistants. To date, the nursing home industry is not fully prepared to meet the needs of those that will require housing, skilled nursing, assistance with daily living activities and health care support in the near future.
Today’s Aging Population
High-quality health care provided to older individuals whom have multiple serious chronic complex conditions already require care provided by those who have a wide range of skills to handle their physical, cognitive, behavioral and mental needs. Today, medical professionals provide the highest level of health care services to older adults than ever before in many different settings.
In the decades ahead, 20 percent of the population will be 65 years or older with an estimated nine out of every 10 of those individuals suffering at least one chronic condition. Today, individuals 65 years and older account for one out of every four doctor’s visits and nearly one out of every two hospital stays. These elders take one out of every three prescriptions an account for one-third of all physical therapy sessions and nine out of every 10 stays in nursing home settings. While the number of individual suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in 2007 was nearly 5 million, that number is likely to increase to 7.7 million by the year 2030.
The Downfall of a Workforce Shortfall
There are already serious issues with the currently overwhelmed health care system that is unable to keep up with the demands necessary to provide much-needed geriatric care. In today’s health care industry, there are an insufficient number of nursing beds available to accommodate all individuals eligible for Medicaid who require nursing home skilled care.
The number of individuals requiring specialized care is expected to grow in the years ahead. By 2018, more than 1 million additional caregivers will be required just to meet the accommodations, assistance and medical treatment of our geriatric population. By 2020, the workforce in the nursing industry is expected to decrease at least 20 percent below what is required to provide quality care in nursing facilities.
A Likely Increase in Elder Abuse
The existing nursing facility market is struggling. Some nursing homes have lost profits because many residents staying at the facility are only covered by Medicaid programs, which typically pay significantly less than private payers with better insurance. The federal government has recently cut reimbursement rates by over 10 percent for Medicare-assisted residents living in nursing homes after being released from hospitals to receive short-term care. This decrease in revenue has hurt the bottom line, making many administrators take drastic steps like decreasing their nursing staff ratio. With a lack of proper staffing, existing employees are overwhelmed by the number of residents under their care. As a result, many residents are neglected by their caregivers or abused by a nursing staff that is overworked, underpaid and frustrated.
Not all abuse and neglect happening in nursing homes is obvious. Many individuals who do not receive adequate care develop serious conditions like bedsores. Others who are neglected become dehydrated and/or malnourished which leads to other serious problems. In many situations, the resident is unable to receive adequate medical attention in a timely manner due to the lack of direct nursing care that can monitor and detect serious conditions when they arise.
Other residents are psychologically or emotionally abused to the point where their mental status is compromised. These types of abusive conditions often manifest into serious long-term physical issues. The increasing rise of elder abuse occurring in nursing homes can result in fatal consequences to residents. Studies indicate that the potential risk of dying in a nursing home is increased by 300 percent when the elder individual experiences abuse of any kind.