Thursday, September 27, 2007

Census data show smaller perecentage of "oldest old" reside in nursing homes

Despite the graying of the nation, the percentage of elderly living in nursing homes has declined, according to Census data released today. The downturn reflects the improved health of seniors and more choices of care for the elderly.  About 7.4% of Americans aged 75 and older lived in nursing homes in 2006, compared with 8.1% in 2000 and 10.2% in 1990.  "The upper-income white population has other options than nursing homes," says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution. "They're moving to assisted living or their well-off, baby boomer children are taking care of them in other ways." At-home care and assisted-living facilities have been a fast-growing segment of elder care in the past decade, says Elise Bolda, director of Community Partnerships for Older Adults, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program that helps communities develop long-term care and services for the elderly.  More than 1.8 million people live in nursing homes.  The percentage of the oldest age group of seniors living in nursing homes has been dropping. Less than 16% of the 85-plus population was in such facilities in 2006, according to the Census. In 1985, more than 21% in that age group lived in nursing homes, according to the National Nursing Home Survey, a government study.  This is good news, given this is the age group most likely to need the assistance and the fastest-growing group in our population," Bolda says.  The Census data on people who live in "group quarters" — including nursing homes, college dormitories and prisons — provide the first detailed profile of those populations since the 1980 Census.

Source/more:  USA Today,

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