As the US Congress prepares to debate health care reform, long-term care for seniors is likely to be a crucial part of the debate. Long-term care has become hugely expensive in recent yearsâ€”the average cost of a year in a private nursing home reached $76,285 in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At least 70% of people over age 65 will require long-term services at some point, and will need those services for an average of three years.
A preferred solution for many is to stay in their own homes.
The population is aging, but more people want to stay put. About 89 percent of those 55 and older would prefer to live out their lives in their homes, according to an AARP survey. And the older they get, the less inclined they are to leave. The survey found that 92 percent of people 65-74 want to age in place. For those 75 and older, about 95 percent want to remain in their homes as long as possible.
Who will help care for them? The need for caregivers and home-care aides is growing. Even in this ferocious recession, health services is one of the few sectors where jobs are going unfilled. So not surprisingly, Senior home care companies are booming. While many companies are struggling in this recession, those that provide home-care to Canada’s seniors say they’ve been surprised and delighted to find business booming.
“Our client base has been growing by over 25 per cent across Canada,” says John DeHart, co-founder of Nurse Next Door Home Healthcare Services. Another provider, Home Instead Senior Care, says revenues increased by 24 per cent in 2008 and it projects similar growth for 2009 from 22 independently owned locations across Canada.
Families are trying to defer assisted-living facility costs by keeping aging parents in their own homes as long as possible. When seniors need more help with daily tasks like dressing, cooking and housework, government-provided care is limited and goes only to those in greatest need, leaving many families in search of a way to fill the gaps.
The alternative solution of moving to a retirement community is not risk-free in this major recession. Neil Prashad, president of Origin Retirement Communities, acknowledges that the company’s potential client base is “very, very spooked” by the economy, particularly because they live on fixed incomes. Home care may not afford the same easy life style but it involves much lower costs.
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