As baby boomers approach retirement age and there are less and less nursing homes being opened and more closing, it is concerning if there will be a shortage of these facilities in the next few decades. In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 78.6 million baby boomers in the U.S., many who will be in their 70’s by 2020, only seven short years away. Will there be enough nursing homes to handle the need when this large group requires full time care?
Elderly Numbers Rise, Nursing Homes Diminish
By 2030, 20% of the nations population will be above 65 years of age, compared to only 13% currently. In addition, the number of 85-year olds will be up 50%. However, the number of nursing homes has decreased in the last decade. From 2000-2009, the total number of nursing homes decreased by 9%. There has been a large decrease not only in the total number of homes but on the amount of new construction of these homes. From 2007-2011, new construction of nursing home units decreased by a third. There are several factors that are contributing to the problem:
- Getting financing for new nursing homes is difficult
- Existing homes are out dated; many were built back in the 1960’s and need many improvements
- Medicaid payments have been slashed, cutting into profits
Even the housing market has hurt the nursing home industry. Many elderly that would have used equity in their homes to help pay for nursing home care have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars since the 2008 crash. An estimated $8 trillion dollars have been lost in equity, affecting the amount of money many had counted on for retirement. Nursing home care is expensive and with cuts to both retirement income and to Medicare payments, large companies that are in the industry are not running out to build more. Instead, they do what big business does best; cut staff and services and raise prices to ensure that they still make a profit for their stack holders. The average cost for a private nursing home room rose 30% from 2005 to 2011, averaging $77,745 per year. Although there is not currently a shortage in nursing homes, if there is not a change in the system, there may be one in the near future. Even more concerning than the shortage of beds is whether the care in the homes that are full to capacity will be compromised. With many homes already running their facilities consistently understaffed when they are not full, it may get even worse as the beds fill up. As an elder abuse attorneys, we know that the shortage of nursing homes, there also may be a larger shortage in good care for the elderly. Resources: