Bruce Chernof, M.D.
Bruce Chernof, M.D., is a geriatrician, president of The SCAN Foundation, based in Long Beach, Calif., and a former chairman of the Federal Commission on Long Term Care. He was in the audience for last week’s White House Conference on Aging, listening from multiple perspectives. Overall, he said in a phone interview, he was pleased with the outcomes.
Q: What were your overall impressions of the conference?
A: It’s important the President was there and spoke up as forcefully as he did. We needed the President to take part in this conversation. It was a very interesting and different conference but I liked the underlying theme: how do we discuss and transform aging? Everyone likes to talk about the scary stuff first – the diseases, the falls, the dementia. There’s not enough focus on the positive aspects of aging, and that limits our ability to focus on everything older adults can and do contribute. Continue reading
In a run-up to the July 13 White House Conference on Aging, (WHCOA) policy experts are stressing the need for increased funding for long-term services and supports (LTSS).
G. Lawrence Atkins, Ph.D. executive director, Long-Term Quality Alliance and president, National Academy of Social Insurance, reviewed key lessons from the Federal Commission on Long-Term Care and aging services innovations to frame future care delivery.
Atkins is the former chair of the commission, which issued a comprehensive report in 2013 calling for more funding and services for care and caregivers of older adults. About 78 percent of adults over age 65 has some type of unmet care need, requiring help with independent household activities of daily living. More than a quarter of older adults rely on outside help; 75 percent turn to family members to help meet their needs. Continue reading
A newly-released report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University says the U.S. is woefully unprepared to meet the escalating need for affordable, accessible housing that offers social connectivity and support services for America’s seniors. Many older adults already must decide between paying for food, medication or rent, and as the population ages this crisis is getting worse.
The new report, Housing America’s Older Adults, says that existing housing often lacks basic features needed by seniors, such as wheelchair accessibility. This lack of necessary features forces many frail and disabled older adults from their own homes. Additionally, isolation among adults who can no longer drive is an increasing problem, due to lack of public transportation and inadequate pedestrian infrastructure. These “disconnects between housing programs and the health care system put many older adults with disabilities or long term care needs at risk for premature institutionalization,” the report says.
The report calls for a combined effort of public, private, non-profit organizations to assess and address housing options that support aging in community. It also calls on individuals and families to be more proactive in determining current and future housing requirements. Many adults who are about to turn 65 are not doing enough to prepare themselves or their environments for aging in place, according to this article in the Washington Business Journal. AARP’s Public Policy Institute documented the decline in living standards many people face as they reach retirement age and struggle with changes in income and rising health care costs due to multiple chronic conditions.
Image by Enrique Bosquet via flickr.
A new study from the RAND Corporation calls on policymakers to improve long-term services and supports (LTSS) for the growing number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and their caregivers. The report focuses on policy options at the intersection of dementia and LTSS.
An estimated 15 percent of Americans over age 70 suffer from dementia, but the number of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to triple by 2050, affecting as many as 14 million in the United States. This will place an unsustainable demand on dementia-related long-term services and supports, according to the report.
The estimated annual costs of dementia care are between $159 billion and $215 billion, which could more than double by 2040 if the age-specific prevalence rate of the disease remains constant as the nation’s population grows older. U.S. policymakers have made funding for clinical responses to dementia a priority. Continue reading
AARP, The Commonwealth Fund and The SCAN Foundation have released their second long term care scorecard, a state-by-state breakdown of performance of long-term services and supports that help older adults, adults with disabilities and their family caregivers. The rankings looked at 26 performance indicators within five dimensions of care for each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and classifies them against each other.
Minnesota led the way among all states in all dimensions – affordability and access, choice of setting and provider, quality of life and quality of care, support for family caregivers, and effective transitions. It was the only state to rank in the top quartile for all five dimensions.
“The scorecard underscores value and importance and of state leadership and state policy,” said Melinda Abrams, vice president for health care delivery system reform, The Commonwealth Fund in a telephone press briefing. “Leading states have implemented laws and policies that build stronger Medicaid programs, and support the family caregiver.”
Policymaking at the state level sets the stage for a high performance system, she said. Indicators such as strong paid sick leave policies for caregivers and more funding of home- and community-based services help older adults age in place longer, or keep them out of nursing homes all together. Continue reading
Image by Richard White via flickr.
Americans today are more supportive of a government-administered long-term insurance program, similar to Medicare, and think a number of measures would be helpful for improving the quality of ongoing living assistance, than they were just a year ago, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. However, the survey also found that most people believe they lack enough information about long-term care assistance and planning – and intend to rely on family members for the majority of care, or already do.
The study follows up on results from the AP-NORC Center’s 2013 long-term care survey to obtain additional data on how much advance planning is being done and what role families play in the process, according to Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center. Compared with the 2013 survey, nearly six in 10 Americans aged 40 and older (58 percent) now favor a government administered long-term care insurance program similar to Medicare, a seven-point increase from prior year’s results. Continue reading