How to Avoid Premature Nursing Home Placement: Five Tips from NAPGCM Survey of Experts on Aging

As Baby Boomers age and the cost of nursing home care continues to rise, it’s no surprise that a new Congressional Budget Office report predicts a significant increase in spending on nursing home and other long-term care services.

A CBO report released in June found that total spending on these services reached $192 billion in 2011, accounting for 1.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), and could jump to 3.3 percent of GDP by 2050.

Indeed, many of us will find our way into nursing home care as we grow older. A 2012 Ohio State University report found that just over half of all women and a third of men will spend time in a nursing home at some point in their lives. More than 1.3 million Americans currently reside in nursing homes now, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study.

While nursing home care provides a significant, essential service for many elders and others with major disabilities, however, no one wants to enter long term care before it’s really necessary. Most want to stay at home as long as possible.

So how do you know whether it’s safe to keep your aging parent at home?

In a May 2013 survey by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) of more than 300 experts on aging about how to prevent premature nursing home placement, these five tips ranked highest (response rates in parentheses):

  1. Assess your parent’s financial and care needs and available resources. Design a plan of care that supports wellness and encourages social interaction based on your parents’ values. (90.0 percent)
  2. Hire a professional to conduct an in-home assessment to look at the home environment, identify needs, obstacles and safety hazards, and make recommendations to keep your aging parent at home. (85.8 percent)
  3. Identify and arrange for any needed home modifications, community resources, paid and unpaid care and medical supports to assure home safety and support aging in place. (84.7 percent)
  4. Identify and understand your parent’s preferences. (67.6 percent)
  5. Identify the community support systems and programs that are available, including those that are low cost, free or part of entitlement programs. (67.3 percent)

“The decision to move your parent into a nursing home is one of the most challenging and stressful choices facing any caregiver,” says Debbie Fins. “While that move may become inevitable, there is much we can do, through appropriate assessment, care planning and support services, to help elders age in place at home for as long as possible—the choice we’d all like to make.”

President of Deborah Fins Associates, PC, since 1995, Deborah Liss Fins is a licensed independent clinical social worker and certified geriatric care manager. Drawing on more than 30 years of professional experience in geriatric care management, DFA offers comprehensive assessments and planning, guidance in selecting appropriate care, help identifying resources for financial support and professional consulting. Please contact us to set up a complimentary initial telephone consultation.

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