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The Majority of Americans Will Rely on Nursing Home Care

A recent study by the RAND Center for the Study of Aging found that over half of Americans will need to turn to nursing home care in the future. With high numbers of baby boomers, higher rates of dementia-related conditions, and shorter hospital stays, experts predict that most of us will require some sort of skilled nursing care either at home or within a facility. The news is difficult for those of us who will face the decision of how to care for ourselves or loved ones as we age, but also for taxpayers, as the demand placed on Medicare and Medicaid will be enormous.

The study predicts that most will have short nursing home visits, which researchers anticipate will be mostly covered out of pocket. The problem lies in long term care that they expect 5% of the adult population to require. The average out-of-pocket costs for a long term stay at a nursing home averages $47,000. This does not include the portion of services covered by private insurance or Medicare and Medicaid. The study’s lead researcher, Michael Hurd, says that Medicaid seems to be the best option for those facing long term nursing home care, a scenario he describes as “the best of a not-very-good situation.”

Dr. David Katz, president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, told Medline Plus that a healthy lifestyle is the best bet to cut down the risk of chronic diseases that require nursing home care.

According to Dr. Katz, “We are increasingly prone to nursing home stays here in the U.S. because medical advances promote longer life, but we lack the corresponding cultural commitments to promoting better health.”