Wednesday, June 16, 2010

AARP reports on increased in independent senior living and increased home-based and community-based services

The AARP Bulletin (June 2010), p 14, has an important story by Peter Jaret, “The Great Escape”, about the trend to encourage seniors to live independently and to bring in-home care services to them, rather than have them move into or stay in “institutions”. The link for the story is here.

In the particular story, a 67 year old woman, recovering from a severe infection and surgery, moved from a nursing home into a small apartment near Philadelphia. But the story specifically deals with seniors who want to be independent and who are intact enough to be by themselves for long periods and to plan their own activities.

It does sound as though the housing market demands more apartment-style housing in planned communities, where there is security, modern amenities, and particularly quick available of in-home services when needed, but where these services are only paid for if needed and not part of the rent. The geriatric care industry calls this “independent living” (as compared to “assisted living”).

This need may be more difficult to fill now in some cities because of the housing crisis and credit line collapse, which is still not fully recovered. Indeed, had the housing market paid more heed to the need for independent living for seniors and built fewer “McMansions” in many cities, the housing crisis might have been much less severe. This one people (including investors) just didn’t see.

The other issue is the workplace market, that it can provide and pay for the workers needed to give in-home care this way, since the demand is obviously growing so fast.

Jaret quotes a statistic from the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL): between 2001 and 2007, Medicaid spending on nursing home care rose only 9.8%, whereas on in-home and community-based care it rose 81.5%.

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