Report: $450 Billion Senior Care Dilemma Demands National Response

A Washington, D.C.-based think tank has come out in strong support of bridging the gap between health care and housing, saying this must become a national priority as 78 million baby boomers are either approaching or entering retirement.

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released a paper titled “America’s Growing Senior Population: Assessing the Dimensions of the Demographic Challenge” on Sept. 24. The paper is meant to serve as a background paper of the Bipartisan Policy Center Health and Housing Task Force.

Overall, the paper calls for a comprehensive national effort to make aging in place a realistic option for the burgeoning senior population.

Friends and family members provide more than $450 billion in uncompensated LTSS every year, more than the $100 billion spent by public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid annually for this purpose, the paper says.

The BPC notes five “universal design” features in the paper that can help make homes safer for seniors: single-floor living, outlets and switches accessible at any height, eliminating the need to use stairs, extra-wide doors and hallways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, and lever-style faucet and door handles.

The paper also provides a comprehensive overview of chronic conditions driving U.S. health care spending, in addition to providing an economic profile of senior households and a demographic outlook for the senior population.

“If the elderly are able to live safely in their own homes and communities further into their senior years rather than moving to more expensive nursing homes and other institutions, the costs incurred by federal and state health care programs will be reduced,” the paper concludes.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson