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Demand on the Rise for Home Healthcare

An aging population means more need for at-home services, but insurance reimbursement rates pose a challenge for agencies and caregivers.

Home care services may include nursing care, physical and occupational therapy, and social work.

When illness, injury, or age-related health issues strike, home healthcare can provide an effective and less-costly alternative to hospitalization or admission to an assisted living facility.

Demand for Home Health Care

A positioning statement on the state of the home care industry from the Joint Commission, an independent nonprofit health services oversight group, confirms that care can be provided less expensively in the home, and home care is a key step toward achieving optimal health outcomes for many patients. Also, findings in the statement conclude that home care interventions can improve quality of care and reduce hospitalizations due to chronic conditions or adverse events. As America’s elderly population continues to grow, so does demand for health-related services that can be provided in the comfort of a patient’s home.

Ninety percent of Americans ages 65 and older want to stay at home for as long as possible, and this age group is growing rapidly, reports the Home Care Association of America and the Global Coalition on Aging.

The United States Census Bureau predicts that by 2020, 56 million Americans will be 65 and older; by 2050, that number will reach 84 million. The frail elderly population — those 85 and older — will triple by 2040. And nearly 70 percent of Americans who reach 65 will be unable to care for themselves at some point without assistance.

It’s not just the elderly who can benefit from at-home care. About 5.6 million children in the United States receive at least 5.1 hours of medical care at home, which costs families (including those providing care themselves) a combined total of $36 billion each year.

Home Healthcare’s Advantages for Patients and Families

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Home healthcare can offer patients optimal care in familiar surroundings, while allowing loved ones to work, go to school and live their lives as normal.

Sallie Sarrel, a doctor of physical therapy in Millburn, New Jersey, who is caring for a parent post-stroke, says, “Having someone in the house that is well-trained and keeps my mother safe, clean, and happy so that I can have a break to go to work, work out, and relax is a lifesaver. We are committed to giving my mother the best life possible at home, and a home health professional enables us to do so.”

Carol B. Amos, of Cleveland, Ohio, agrees. “For us, the home care experts became another set of eyes and ears,” says Amos, whose mother lived four hours away when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “They helped us understand how our mother was managing her medications and activities of daily living and updated us regularly.”