Fewer Older Americans Use Nursing Homes, Study Reveals
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 27, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC--The creation of community-based services, high profile court decisions, and state and federal policy shifts have been largely responsible for a significant decline in the actual number of seniors in U.S. nursing homes, a new study is showing.
The report, released November 21 by the Lewin Group, a health care and human services consulting firm, noted the number of nursing home residents over age 64 dropped eight percent -- from 1.44 million to 1.32 million -- between 1999 to 2004.
The report credited the U.S. Supreme Court's 1999 Olmstead decision, which found that unnecessarily institutionalizing people with disabilities violates their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
It also cited changes in Medicaid programs that are designed to divert money for long-term care toward in-home caregivers and assisted living alternatives, while having skilled nursing facilities handle more intensive rehabilitation. In fact, the average length of stay at nursing homes dropped sharply during the same period.
"The implications for the future are significant," said the study's author, Lisa Alecxih. "While future disability rates and income levels among older adults are difficult to forecast, the baby boomers could be expected to have preferences similar of those of the current group of older adults. That is, they would probably seek to avoid nursing home care if possible."
"Press release: New Long Term Care Study Shows Dramatic Shift Away From Nursing Homes for 'Oldest Old'" (The Lewin Group)
"Nursing Home Use by "Oldest Old" Sharply Declines" (The Lewin Group)