Nursing Home Care May Be Out of Reach for Many Aging 'Boomers'

Price tag for one year of institutionalized care is now about $84,000, federal report says

MONDAY, June 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A growing number of older Americans are developing chronic diseases but can't cover the costs of long-term care in a nursing facility, the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA)-funded report says.

The analysis of national data revealed that chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes rose among older Americans between 1998 and 2008. By 2008, 41 percent of older adults had three or more chronic conditions, 51 percent had one or two, and only 8 percent had none, according to the NIA-funded Census Bureau study. While rates of smoking and excessive drinking have fallen among Americans aged 65 and older, the percentage of overweight and obese seniors has risen, the report notes.

The NIA investigation also looked at the costs of nursing home care and older Americans' ability to pay for it. In 2010, the average cost of a private room in a nursing home was $229 a day -- or almost $84,000 per year. However, the NIA team calculated that less than one-fifth of seniors can afford to live in a nursing home for more than three years, and nearly two-thirds can't afford even one year.

The statistics represent "an approaching crisis in caregiving," Richard Suzman, director of the NIA's Division of Behavioral and Social Research, said in an agency news release. "Baby boomers had far fewer children than their parents. Combined with higher divorce rates and disrupted family structures, this will result in fewer family members to provide long-term care in the future," Suzman explained. "This will become more serious as people live longer with conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's."

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