With the elderly population growing at record levels, much research is being done to figure out the best solutions to meet this group’s health care needs.
According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, by 2050, one of every five Americans will be categorized as a senior (age 65 or older). The number of people age 85 or older will grow the fastest over the next few decades, comprising 4 percent of the population by 2050. A surge in the elderly population brings with it a corresponding spike in the number of elderly people with functional and cognitive limitations. Functional limitations are physical problems that limit a person’s ability to perform routine daily activities, such as eating, bathing, dressing, paying bills, and preparing meals.
Cognitive limitations are losses in mental acuity that may also restrict a person’s ability to perform such activities. On average, about one-third of people age 65 or older report functional limitations of one kind or another; among people age 85 or older, about two-thirds report functional limitations.
Home health care has risen as one possible solution.
“Government programs that assist frail elderly people, such as Medicaid, have experimented with several different models of health care financing and delivery,” the report states. “One major change has been the gradual shift to providing care to people as they continue to live in private homes rather than in institutional settings.”