The elderly population is growing as more baby boomers reach retirement age. In fact, because we’re living longer, many of those same baby boomers have parents who are still living and often, they require special attention. So even as millions prepare for retirement, they’re also caring for a parent (or both) who are likely in their 80s or 90s. The common goal is simple – stay at home as long as possible, no matter our age. We know, too, that when the elderly are allowed to remain in their homes, their quality of life is greatly improved, not to mention the financial strain can be easier, whether they’re on Medicaid, Medicare or have private insurance.
Aging in Place
With all of these healthcare advances, the numbers show that about one-third of those reaching the age of 65 will likely live to at least 90. Add to that the national average of nursing home admissions now pushed to about 89 years old, the trend is sure to continue for the elderly to live independently for as long as possible. Aging in place is always the goal, even when it requires outside assistance. Of course, this isn’t without concerns regarding the U.S. health system. One of those concerns is that meeting the needs of those who are aging in place will be more difficult to accomplish, especially if the potential for long term care exists.
The good news is that many communities across the country are taking the aging in place movement seriously. For them, they’re finding ways to ensure seniors are able to reach advanced ages while still residing at home, courtesy of a teamwork mentality that includes family, friends and community resources and programs.
Even better, results from an extensive study conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) show even more promise for aging in place. A few of the highlights include:
- Programs that support aging in place may yield cost savings for families, government, and health systems.
- Further research is expected to better account for all costs involved since existing evidence often relies on small-scale case studies. Once taken into a broader perspective, the “big picture” should be even more promising.
- Aging in place has also been shown to have health and emotional benefits over institutional care.
In other words, there don’t appear to be any significant reasons that would suggest aging in place is not the best option from every perspective.
Potential Cost Savings for Medicaid
We know that the additional savings for seniors is especially important, but promoting aging in place may also create “systemic cost savings” for both Medicare and Medicaid. Remember, Medicare is a federal health insurance program primarily for people aged 65 and older while Medicaid is a joint federal and state assistance program that helps cover medical costs for some people with limited income and resources, including seniors and the elderly. Couple this with the “dual eligibility” some states allow, and the savings could very well be the “cure all” for many families. Because Medicaid and Medicare pay for the majority of long-term care, close to 70 percent of the $203 billion spent in 2009 was for nursing home, home health care, and other long-term services and supports.
To learn more about how Medicaid and your overall estate plan play into the aging in place movement, we invite you to contact our team of qualified elder law attorneys today.