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JAMDA: New trends in LTC populations

June 27, 2016
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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What does your target resident population look like? It may be a lot younger and more diverse than you think, according to an article published in JAMDA.

The article, “Whom Do We Serve? Describing the Target Population for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care, Focusing on Nursing Facility Settings, in the Era of Population Health,” is derived from data analyzed by the AMDA—Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine Population Health Workgroup on which services and care settings are being utilized the most.

About 12 million people in the United States receive some level of long-term services and supports. The majority of long-term and post-acute care recipients are between the ages of 65 and 85, but during the past 20 years, the number of younger people seeking services has nearly doubled from 8 to 15 percent.  

Perhaps the biggest trend over the past few decades has been the surging demands for home-based care and services provided by home health agencies. In 2011, more than 1 million people were living in nursing homes, but as those numbers have decreased, the numbers of those now using home health agency services has increased to nearly 3.5 million.

Meanwhile, those who reside in nursing homes tend to have rising clinical acuities, but disease management strategies seem to be having an impact: The number of nursing home residents requiring help with five or more activities of daily living dropped significantly from 52 percent to just 23 percent.

Marital status also has shifted in the past few decades. The percentage of married residents has jumped from 12 percent to 33 percent, while the number of widowed residents has dropped 20 percent.

Resident diversity has also increased, but not as much as you might think. African Americans in nursing homes have tripled since 1973 to 13 percent, a bit higher than the U.S. percentage of 9 percent of those over age 65. Hispanic residents are also increasing, but still remain below 5 percent, despite the fact that Hispanics comprise 8 percent of the U.S. population over age 65.

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