Archive for the ‘Research & Statistics’ Category

Scary Statistics

Scary Health Statistics for Homecare Advocate Blog

Happy Halloween everyone!  We’ve compiled a list of some of the scariest health care statistics for our latest Homecare Advocate post.  Read on if you dare.

Scary Statistics:

Medical errors accounted for $19.5 billion in the US in 2008, with an estimated 6.3 million medical injuries and 2,500 preventable deaths. (SOA)

Medical bills accounted for 62% of all bankruptcy claims in 2007, a 50% increase since 2001 when it was at 46%. (CNN)

By 2020, the US will have an estimated 20% shortage of registered nurses for the workforce requirements.  (American Nursing Assoc.

$3.9 billion was spent on treating bed sores (that are “almost always considered to be the result of an error” in 2008. Post-operative infections were $3.7 billion.  (Wall Street Journal)

Health insurance is projected to increase by 3.9% for 2012, with many employers raising deductibles and moving employees to lower-cost health plans. (CNN)

A private room in a nursing home cost $83,585 per year on average. (US News)

$7,538: annual US spending in health care per person (compared to Norway at $5,004).  However, the US still ranks last among first-world countries in health. (Wall Street Journal)

However, hold out for HOPE!  Tomorrow begins Homecare Month and National Family Caregivers Month, so we’re going to explore some wonderful solutions throughout the entire month of November.  Stay tuned!


Retirement and Long-Term Care

Homecare Advocate Blog Post: Retirement and Long Term CareMost Baby Boomers are expecting a healthy, active retirement according to a new poll conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  However, are these Golden Years slightly Gilded?  Unlike generations before, these boomers are more aware of the fiscal consequences of long-term care and don’t necessarily feel financially prepared, perhaps from the experience of caring for an aging parent themselves.  In fact, this generation of boomers see things quite differently from those before them, particularly concerning their physical and financial health in the years ahead.

The expectations of “pre-retiree” boomers was compared against the realities of current “retirees” in this study, and it produced some staggering realizations about our new generation of seniors and their outlook on retirement, health, and quality of life.  Over 1200 pre-retirees and retirees were surveyed and asked about key areas of retirement life, including finances, health, institutional care, and more.

The results?  A disconnect between those who anticipate retiring versus those who are retired.  As Jeff Goldsmith, author of The Long Baby Boom: An Optimistic Vision for a Graying Generation, puts it, “There is no question that one distinguishing feature of our generation is this extraordinary, almost genetic optimism.  And the poll results look to me like a lot of that optimism was drawn from a deep well of self-delusion.”  This poll confirms what we saw at the Knoxville Home Remodeling Show a few weekends back (which we blogged about in the last post on psychological barriers to independence at home).  As the Huffington Post columnist Glenn Braunstein, MD quipped, ” Americans are notorious disease-and death-deniers. We cling to the fantasy that death will come quickly and peacefully as we sleep and only when we’re age 100 and have earlier taken a brisk walk, read the Wall Street Journal and had a romp in the hay.  It doesn’t happen that way.”

This poll touched on some of the delicate issues we must each consider as we plan for our future and for aging.  To have the retirement we desire, we must have an honest discussion about what our needs are, what they will be, and what resources will be needed to take care of ourselves. Here are some of the significant findings from the poll:

“Pre-retirees may under estimate the challenges of retirement.”

13% of pre-retirees expect their health to be worse in retirement, but 39% of current retirees say that their health is worse than it was 5 years prior to retiring.

“Finances play a key role in the decision to delay or even avoid retirement among those not yet retired.”

54% of pre-retirees are deliberately postponing their retirement due to their financial situation.  Many suffered in the economic collapse of 2008 and do not feel financially secure enough to retire as early as they may have originally planned to.  Renowned financial planner Dave Ramsey offers a financial investment calculator on his Web site that helps individuals estimate the savings they will need to accrue for comfortable retirement.

“While pre-retirees and retirees agree on many community characteristics that keep retirees healthy, retirees draw attention to drug store access.”

Community pharmacies and home medical companies are a vital but often overlooked component of remaining healthy at home for many older Americans.  77% of retirees cited the importance of access as a critical component of them maintaining a healthy lifestyle and remaining in their homes.  Likewise, a September study of 2000 Americans by Harris Interactive revealed that nearly 4 of 5 Americans think the federal government should strengthen patient access to home medical equipment and services.  If programs like the ill-conceived Competitive Bidding eliminate suppliers, our seniors will feel the void and suffer as result.

Paying for Long Term Health Care

Of particular interest to us at Homecare Advocate was boomers’ impression of long-term care.  Though they better understood the cost of care, they were not well informed on the resources that paid for it.  The study revealed that 32% of pre-retirees and 43% of retirees thought that Medicare would pay for the majority cost of their 3-month nursing home stay if needed and only 10% and 7% thought Medicaid would, respectively.  However, the National Health Policy Forum revealed that in 2009 the $203.2 billion dollars spent on long-term services and supports was largely covered by Medicaid.  Over 10 million Americans currently need long-term care for daily living, and there are strict qualifiers like a very small income and essentially no assets in order for Medicaid to pay.  Medicare, on the other hand, does not pay for long-term care and would only temporarily pay for a nursing home stay in the instances of rehabilitation or skilled nursing care after a qualifying hospital stay of 3 days.  Neither Medicare nor Medicaid will pay for Assisted Living and will not cover personal support services like grooming, bathing, meal preparation and eating, and more.  Both Medicare and Medicaid are undergoing significant budgetary changes at the state and federal level, and boomers and seniors must be prepared for what lies ahead.

The poll also echoed a recent AARP study that revealed that 89% of people want to remain in their current home for the rest of their lives.  In the poll, pre-retirees and retirees alike were “very” or “somewhat” worried about the prospect of being admitted into a nursing home, citing:

  • an institutional environment is not as comfortable as home (82%; 78%)
  • cleanliness of the facility (78%; 74%)
  • having too few nurses for the care needed (77%; 69%)
  • quality of health provided (76%; 69%)
  • limited privacy (74%; 65%)

What about long-term care?

“More than 2/3 said they were very or somewhat likely to have trouble paying for long-term care if they or a spouse needed it.  That’s slightly more than the 3/5 who feared they might have trouble paying overall medical bills” reports NPR.

According to the National Advisory Center for Long Term Care Insurance, those 65 and over have a 70% chance of needing long-term care at some point.   The American Association for Long Term Care Insurance says that long term care is a woman’s issue because of longevity and caregiving.  Since women live longer than men, the women are typically caregivers for their spouse.  However, when widowed, they have no one to care for them and can develop more chronic health problems with their longer life-span.

Dave Ramsey strongly advocates for Long-Term Care Insurance for older Americans aged 60 and older.  “I’m a huge fan of this insurance. If you become ill, it ensures that your spouse will have enough money to eat and your kids won’t be burdened with huge payments. Not having LTC insurance can be a $300,000 to $400,000 mistake.”

Rebalancing Act

As our population ages, a rebalancing act is occurring in several states throughout the country as older adults and people with disabilities seek long-term services and desire to remain at home.  Yesterday groups met on Capitol Hill to discuss long-term care options and to gain a better understanding of how we can efficiently and effectively care for people needing long-term health care services.  The forum, held by the Alliance for Health Reform and the Commonwealth Fund, focused on serving more people through home and community based services than through institutional care.

Homecare is cost-effective, patient preferred, and results in better clinical outcomes than institutional care.  Tennessee is one of the growing number of states that supports home and community based options for seniors through its CHOICES Program. 61% of Americans favor investment in community- or home-based care to improve cost-effective health care.   A homecare-based approach will address the goal of former President John F. Kennedy who eloquently stated, “It’s not good enough for a nation merely to add new years to life–our objective must also be to add new life to those years.”

As a fellow Homecare Advocate, I encourage you to learn more about long-term care and how you can prepare yourself for the future so that you can truly enjoy the golden years.


39 Ways to Prepare for the Senior Tsunami

Homecare Advocate: 39 Ways to Prepare for the Senior TsunamiThis year marked the beginning of a new wave of seniors as the first boomers cross over at a staggering rate of thousands each day.  In less than 30 years, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older! No doubt that our geographic landscape will change tremendously over the next several decades, but what about the physical landscape?  What will we do to create age friendly communities so people of all ages can access and contribute to our public spaces?

CBS just released an article on how a few cities are championing these age friendly changes through a combination of invested interests of nonprofits, government, and private enterprise.  According to the article, “It will take some creative steps to make New York and other cities age-friendly enough to help the coming crush of older adults stay active and independent in their home. ‘It’s about changing the way we think about the way we’re growing old in our community, ‘ said New York Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. ‘The phrase end of life does not apply anymore’…  It has a huge impact not just on how many years they will live, but how well they will live them.”

Quality of life is a huge part of these age friendly changes that are beginning to occur across the country.  The World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the concept of age friendly initiatives, describing an Age-friendly City as “an inclusive and accessible urban environment that promotes active aging”.

By focusing on how to keep people active, connected, and involved, we are able to keep a huge segment of our population contributing and engaged economically, culturally, socially, and spiritually.

39 age friendly ideas for your community:

  1. Promote access to home and community-based services that support aging in place
  2. Increase number of benches in public spaces
  3. Provide job training for occupations that can be done by seniors
  4. Develop a voucher program for low-income seniors to use public transportation
  5. Educate physicians about geriatric care
  6. Offer deliveries as a service
  7. Programs for elderly and disabled to modify current home to meet physical needs
  8. Place products in places that are easy to reach
  9. Stores keep aisles free of tripping hazards
  10. Expand pedestrian-friendly spaces
  11. Educate the community about services offered
  12. Pave sidewalks and passageways so the ground is even and doesn’t pose a tripping hazard
  13. Have places in businesses for people to sit and rest as needed
  14. Provide extra customer service for the elderly both in person and over the phone
  15. Bring in farmers markets during the weekdays
  16. Practice priority seating for elderly and people with disabilities
  17. Provide loan assistance for home repairs that keep one living safely at home
  18. Use larger-type fonts so that people can read signage
  19. Offer time-banking where each hour of contribution of a service can be redeemed for an hour of receiving a service from another person in the program
  20. Recruit talented individuals to teach a class in a senior center
  21. Sell single portions of fresh meat
  22. Secure neighborhoods to allow seniors to safely and confidently come out and participate
  23. Develop mixed-use space for one to have a variety of activities within walking distance
  24. Extend the length of pedestrian walk-signals to allow additional time to cross the street
  25. Install brighter lights to help avoid falls
  26. Increase green spaces
  27. Offer driving refresher courses to help seniors drive safely and confidently
  28. Educate about universal design features to builders, architects, contractors, and urban planners
  29. Offer roomier taxis to better accommodate those with disabilities
  30. Frequent, reliable public transportation
  31. Increase number of clean public restrooms
  32. Provide volunteer opportunities for seniors to contribute and connect with others
  33. Perseverance of the local convenience stores instead of large big-box stores that are difficult to navigate through
  34. Conduct a study to assess mobility needs of your community’s elderly population
  35. Encourage all new buildings and business spaces to include non-slip floors, wider hallways, elevators/escalators/ramps, wheelchair accessible checkouts
  36. Install ramps in public spaces
  37. Support non-profits serving the elderly population
  38. Create a safe environment for passengers on public transportation and in public spaces
  39. Increase the number of handicapped parking spots and enforce compliance

    Age friendly plans are important for all of us to begin implementing.  Certain states like Florida, Maine, Wyoming, and New Mexico have a significantly higher than average growth rate of the senior population; over 27% of Floridians will be over 65 by 2030!  What new initiatives do you want to see in your community?


    5 Disability-Friendly Cities

    Celebrate independent living this 4th of July weekend!  Across the country, people will observe this patriotic holiday by gathering with friends, eating, enjoying the outdoors, and traveling.  It is no different for people with disabilities, so we’re highlighting 5 fantastic American landmark cities that are known for being wheelchair-friendly.

    Homecare Advocate: Baltimore


    What better way to commemorate Independence Day than to visit Baltimore, Maryland, birthplace of our national anthem!  Baltimore is rich in history and offers several handicap-accessible activities suitable for all ages.  The Ft McHenry National Monument has a comprehensive visitor’s center, outdoor activities, and information about the War of 1812.  The National Aquarium (known to be one of the most wheelchair accessible, handicap-friendly attractions according to Disabled Travelers) has an expansive collection of marine life from around the globe with over 660 species and 16,000 creatures on exhibit.  And since Baltimore is a coastal city, your trip would not be complete without the Inner Harbor where you can shop, dine, and stay along the breathtaking waterfront.

    Homecare Advocate, Disability Friendly Seattle


    From Coast to Coast, Seattle has consistently ranked as one of the most accessible cities.  Home of the first Starbucks, this progressive city offers fantastic wheelchair-friendly public transportation to an array of activities suitable for a wide range of interests.  The Space Needle is an icon in Seattle, boasting 360 degree views of the city and surrounding mountains from its 520 foot tower.  Equipped with ramps and elevators, the Space Needle also offers a unique dining experience in its revolving restaurant.  One can also explore the neighboring islands via accessible ferries.  Aeronautics enthusiasts will want to make the short trip over to Mukileto, a city 25 miles north of Seattle, to take the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour by, Boeing.  Book ADA tours in advance for an up-close look at the only commercial jet assembly plant in the US.

    Homecare Advocate, Disability Friendly Orlando


    If you’re looking for an amusing trip, head over to Orlando where amusement parks offer days of entertainment.  Universal Studios and Disney World offer accessible activities, paths, and events for all ages.  Want to get in on some action?  Check out You Can Ski 2, a US Water Ski affiliated site that teaches people with disabilities (including wheelchair users) how to use adaptive equipment to water ski.  Private lessons are available as well.  And for anyone who loves animals, be sure to check out Discovery Cove where “specially designed beach wheelchairs” can be rented to access Serenity Bay beach.  The All-Day, All-Inclusive package also includes a 30-minute dolphin interaction and hand feeding exotic birds from the free-flight aviary as well as unlimited access to SeaWorld Orlando!

    Homecare Advocate, Disability Friendly Cities, Denver


    The Mile High City, though surrounded by pristine mountains, is actually a relatively flat city that offers accessible mass transit for people with disabilities.  Denver ranks first in the nation for per-capita beer production and offers several brewery tours, including the wheelchair-friendly Denver Microbrew Tour.  Learn about beer and its history with Denver as you taste beer samples from four different microbreweries located in the historic LODO District.  Afterwards, hit up the 16th Street Mall, sixteen blocks of shopping, street vendors, entertainment, and delicious food in downtown Denver.  Stroll with ease along the pedestrian-only strip or take advantage of the free shuttle service that is handicap-accessible.  Attractions such as Coors Field and The Pepsi Center are only a few blocks away.  If you’re looking for a quiet retreat, the Denver Botanical Gardens offers a tranquil getaway from the hustle and bustle of downtown, ranked in the Top 10 Public Gardens by Country Living Gardener magazine.  Accessible pathways and raised beds allow persons with disabilities to fully experience the beautiful landscape.

    Homecare Advocate, Disability Friendly Chicago


    On a hot summer day, you can enjoy the constant breeze from Lake Michigan throughout the downtown streets of Chicago.  The Art Institute of Chicago offers an esteemed collection of over 3,000 world class art pieces.  The museum offers a rich assortment American art from artists such as Georgia O’Keefe, Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, and more.  Enjoy picturesque views of the city from two of Chicago’s most famous architectural buildings, the John Hancock observatory or the skydeck of the Sears Tower.  If you prefer to get up close and personal with the city, visit Navy Pier, a popular tourist attraction with dining, shopping, concerts, and performances on the many stages.  Some cruise boats that leave from Navy Pier are wheelchair accessible such as the Chicago River Architecture Cruise; most suggest you call in advance to ensure your spot is reserved on the accessible deck of the boat.

    If you don’t already have a wheelchair, check with your local homecare equipment company (like Lambert’s).  Many offer rentals for wheelchairs, power scooters, and transport chairs.  This is just one more way we help increase quality of life by providing ways to get out and explore this great country of ours.  What wheelchair-friendly cities have you been to?