Some Interesting Facts about Long Term Care

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) is one of the Federal agencies that support through grants health services research. It is an agency within the Public Health Service Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Included in this research area have been several important studies on long term care. In reading through some of their studies we came across several items that we feel would be quite important to our viewers in enhancing their knowledge about long term care.

Did you ever wonder as to what the odds would be for the "average " person to spend some time in a nursing home? It turns out that after the age of 65 years, about 43 of 100 people will spend some time in a nursing home. One of the many reasons why this topic is so important to all of us is the fact that about 40% of long term care costs are paid for by the Federal/State Medicaid program. Although we normally associate the term long term care with the elderly there are several other groups of the population that make up the population that is included in this term. Some of the other members are the following: children with disabilities, people with mental health problems, people with Alzheimer's disease, and people with AIDS.

About 9% of all Medicare hospital admissions are transfers from nursing homes. According to these studies about 28% of the nursing home population will spend some time in a hospital during their residency in the home. About 20% of users will spend 5 or more years in the nursing home. The average stay in a nursing home will be about 3 1/2 years. About 10% of the residents in a nursing home and personal care homes are under the age of 65 (Lair, 1992) and 11% do not need care with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) (Lair and Lefkowitz, 1990)

More than 70% of nursing and personal care home residents are women and 2/3rds of them are widowed or divorced. About 40% are demented and about 59% require assistance with four or more ADLs.

As might be expected higher professional nursing staff levels and lower turnover of staff improves the nursing home outcome (Cohen and Spector, 1996; Spector and Takada, 1991). In our article "How to Select a Nursing Home" we stated that one of the hints that you can use in determining how to judge a nursing home is to inquire as to the length of employment in the home by the staff. If the staff members have been in the home for a long period of time it usually means that they are more satisfied as employees. Case management can reduce cost per participant and maintain quality if the agency has power to authorize public payments, maintains an average expenditure cap, and provides the case management services itself (Kemper, 1990).

About 95% of non-institutionalized elderly persons in need of long term care rely on family members and friends for help with activities of daily living. (Spillman and Kemper, 1992)

See our other article on long term care- Long Term Care-Who to Turn to for Help.



Much of the information for this article came from AHCPR Pub. No.97-0054

By Allan Rubin
February 23, 2003

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