I was intrigued by a recent report in the Detroit Free Press by Robin Erb, “AARP: Michigan too quick to put elderly in nursing homes” which highlighted the problem faced by Michigan— but, is frankly applicable everywhere— the spiraling cost of providing nursing home care to an expanding elderly population.
Citing statistics from AARP, Michigan spends more than than 35 states when it comes to providing Medicaide (state funding) funding for long-term care funding for seniors. In lieu of the expensive services provided to seniors in the setting of a nursing home, the AARP report suggests that a more cost effective option would be to provide more home-based care to seniors by directing nurses aides and other professionals directly to seniors who are living in their own homes.
According to the AARP paper, an estimated $57,338 per Medicaide participant could be saved each year by providing services directly to seniors via home care or similar programs int he community.
Interestingly, this report follows on the heels of a report on senior living arrangements commissioned by the Health Care Association of Michigan (a nursing home industry group) which drew upon data from federal nursing home surveys to suggest that nursing home care in the state was actually under-utilized— as the cost savings suggested by many home care plans simply did not save as much money as alleged due to costs associated with additional hospitalizations that were not always taken into account when compiling expenses.
While I suspect that the issues that accompany nursing home funding will remain an issue for debate for the foreseeable future, these issues highlight the need for individuals and families to explore all of their options before committing to a type of care. Hopefully, as the costs associated with senior care continue to escalate, families will recognize that there may be viable alternatives in a non-traditional setting that are better suited to their loved ones’ needs.
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