With the increased life expectancy and the bulk of baby boomers surpassing age 65, long-term care has become a growing concern.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 65,500 long-term care facilities in the United States serve approximately 8.3 million people. From staff shortages to a system slow to change, communities need to consider ways to accommodate the changing landscape. Those may include the following:
1. Create more affordable housing options
While people want to age at home as long as possible, events unfold that make that impossible. When that happens, people face a limited amount of options, especially people with low or moderate incomes. Nursing homes will continue to serve an important role, but people need to have an array of options. This will require developing a national strategy that includes rethinking current Fair Housing Act policies.
2. Encourage community outreach
Even the best facilities often lead to isolation from the greater population. Encouraging more integrations provides benefits to the community at large. Residents could maintain that sense of belonging in society while members of the community could benefit from the services that these facilities provide.
3. Rethink the rating system
Currently, the system uses a five-star rating system that focuses heavily on regulatory measures. Instead, a shift to capturing the true experience of people from varying demographics offers a clearer picture of life in long-term care.
At some point, most people will need long-term care. Making changes now to the system may lead to a more comprehensive system able to accommodate the varying needs of the aging population.