Geriatric Care Managers Offer Tips for Keeping Aging Parents at Home

Financial Advisor Talking To Senior Couple At Home

National professional organization helps families avoid premature nursing home placement.

As a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report predicted a doubling of nursing home and other long-term care costs, the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) released the results of a survey of 335 aging experts that provides advice to families to help them keep aging parents in their own homes and prevent premature placement in a nursing home.

The CBO report found that the share of the nation’s economy directed to the costs of nursing home and other long-term care services could more than double by the year 2050 due to the aging of the population and a corresponding surge in seniors with physical and cognitive impairments. The CBO report said that total spending for these services reached $192 billion in 2011, accounting for 1.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and could jump to up to 3.3 percent of GDP by 2050.

With the aging of the U.S. population, confronting the need for nursing home care is an increasingly common challenge for families. According to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study, over 1.3 million Americans currently reside in nursing homes. A 2012 Ohio State University report found that a majority (52 percent) of women and a third (32 percent) of men will spend time in a nursing home at some point in their lives.

Here are the top five tips identified by experts in the survey (along with the percentage of survey respondents selecting each option):

  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 parent’s 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 an aging parent 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).

"Confronting the need to move into a nursing home or other facility can be one of the most painful and difficult challenges facing aging adults – it is an issue that geriatric care managers deal with on a daily basis," said NAPGCM President Jullie Gray. "The good news is that there are many steps that can be taken to help seniors remain in their homes. With some planning and thought, many people can age in place in their homes and communities – and there is ample evidence that living at home can lead to a longer and more fulfilling life," she added.

Source: National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM). Geriatric care managers are professionals who have extensive training and experience working with older people, people with disabilities and families who need assistance with caregiving issues. To learn more, visit the NAPGCM website (www.caremanager.org).