The number of people age 85 or older will grow the fastest over the next few decades.
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.”
About 70 percent of people turning age 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Do you know what Medicare covers?
Medicare covers medically necessary care, such as doctor visits, drugs, and hospital stays. Medicare coverage also includes short-term services for conditions that are expected to improve, such as physical therapy to help you regain your function after a fall or stroke. In addition, Medicare covers a short stay in a skilled nursing facility or for home health care services as long the following conditions are met:
- You have had a recent prior hospital stay of at least three days.
- You are admitted to a Medicare-certified nursing facility within 30 days of your prior hospital stay.
- You need skilled care, such as skilled nursing services, physical therapy, or other types of therapy.
Choose the best home care agency.
Medicare-sponsored online tool Home Health Compare helps consumers research home care agencies based on quality care measures and patient satisfaction.
If you are considering home health services for yourself or a loved one, be sure to consult Home Health Compare, an online tool provided by Medicare.gov, to help you choose a suitable agency that offers the services you need with superior ratings in the care it provides.
Home Health Compare contains information about the quality of care provided by “Medicare-certified” home health agencies throughout the nation. “Medicare-certified” means the home health agency is approved by Medicare and meets certain federal health and safety requirements.
A quick browse through the website and you’ll find competing agencies’ scores on various quality measures such as:
- How well home health agencies care for their patients.
- How often each agency used best practices when caring for its patients and whether patients improved in certain important areas of care.
- What other patients said about their recent home health care experience.
For instance you can search for the home health agency in your area that had the highest scores in helping patients get better at walking or moving around, or how often the home health team checked a patient’s risk of falling.
The Home Health Compare website was created through the efforts of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
NOTE: Medicare will not cover home health services provided by a home health agency that has not been Medicare-certified.