It is no secret that Americans are growing older and living longer. The demographics for our country have made substantial shifts in the last 100 years, and the age of people is a primary reason. For a starter, let’s just consider Social Security benefits. In 2015, nine out of 10 people older than 65 received Social Security retirement benefits. Social Security benefits represent about 39 percent of the income of the elderly, and in many instances is the only source of income for elderly Americans. Since 1940, the life expectancy of people has increased by seven years. By 2035, it is estimated that the number of people older than 65 will increase from 48 million to 79 million. Currently, there are approximately 2.8 workers for each recipient of benefits; that number is expected to decrease significantly in the coming years.
As American citizens grow older and live longer, more people find themselves in need of long-term care. A nursing home stay can cost as much as $4,500 per month. Today, the average life expectancy is 76 years old, with women, on average, living longer than men. That fastest growing segment of our population are those individuals older than 75. Today, 10 percent of all Americans are older than 85 years of age! Approximately one-half of all people who live past the age of 65 are expected to be admitted to a nursing home for either short-term or long-term care. At present, more than 22 percent of Americans older than 85 live in long-term care facilities. Twenty percent of nursing home residents stay at the facility a year, while 10 percent stay as long as three years.
The primary reason for admission to nursing homes (as much as 40 percent of all admissions) is not illness; rather, according to the American Association of Retired People (AARP), most admissions are the results of falls resulting in injuries. Currently, more and more doctors are discharging patients from the hospital to nursing homes. A large percent of these admissions are for short-term rehabilitative services, such physical therapy and occupational therapy.
About one-half of all people who are admitted to a nursing home do not immediately qualify for government assistance. Instead, those persons are expected, and often have to, pay for the stay out of their personal resources or family members have to make the payments. With the costs of nursing homes, personal resources are often diminished quickly. After all savings and other resources have been spent, then Medicaid and/or Medicare (which will pay for the skilled nursing and rehabilitation services in some instances) will begin to pay some or all of the costs of the nursing home stay. In some instances, patients are fortunate enough to have long-term care insurance that will assist with the costs of nursing home care.
The take-away message here is that we are all living longer and that is generally very good. But with a longer lifespan comes some real problems. Based upon limited governmental resources and stricter requirements to qualify for those benefits, it may be a wise decision for people to begin to make financial plans in the event that long-term care becomes necessary. If you need additional information on this subject, or nursing home liability generally, contact Ben Locklar, a lawyer in our firm who handles nursing home litigation, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Ben.Locklar@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: SSA, ElderWeb
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