Nursing Home Care Undesirable for Most
Most people prefer to avoid nursing home care in their twilight years, according to the L.A. Times. Both the efforts of individual families and the government's new health care law aim to keep seniors in their homes longer.
"Nursing homes are not a first choice," said Elinor Ginzler, senior vice president for livable communities at AARP. "People like where they are living. We surveyed the 50-plus population and found that 86% of them want to stay in their homes."
At a time when nursing home residence can cost up to $85,000 a year, it is not only an undesirable option for many but an unfeasible one for them financially.
"If you look at the baby boomers coming up, I wonder how we are going to pay for all of this," said Patricia McGinnis, president of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform . "The average retirement savings of people 55 or older is $29,000 a year."
An Ohio study showed the number of older residents of the state living in nursing homes has decreased by 15% since 1993, despite a 15% increase in the number of seniors, with more receiving home care.
The government's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law last year, hopes to help by offering a long-term care insurance plan for anyone who requires it. The voluntary plan will be paid entirely by premiums paid by those who sign up for the program. A person must pay premiums for at least five years before being eligible to receive benefits.
Dee Mahan, deputy director of health policy at FamiliesUSA, a nonprofit healthcare advocacy organization, has high hopes for the program. "It is a really different and new way of looking at the delivery and financing of long-term care in the U.S.," she said. "I think the program is really, really important."