The National Study of Long-Term Care Providers is conducted to track trends in long-term care use. The most recent study reveals increased demand for long-term care in the northern half of the continental United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention post information that shows this northern trend as well. Twelve out of thirteen states with higher than normal rates of long-term care use by seniors 85 and older are located north of Kansas. The states with lower than usual use are not as neatly clustered as the higher use states. However, those lower use states do tend to be located in the southern half of the country.
What Do the National Study Numbers Mean?
It is difficult to determine the cause of the disparity between north and south. However, some things can be inferred from the information. Assuming that the overall health of seniors in the south is not significantly different than the health of seniors in the north, the answer could be cultural. The numbers could reflect a different cultural approach to utilizing long-term care in the two regions.
It may be that seniors (and/or their families and friends) in the north are more open to assisted living. Given the cultural differences between these regions in other matters, this may be at least a part of the puzzle.
Another possibility is the difference in availability of long-term care in the two regions. Adequate care may not be as readily available in those states with lower rates of usage. Availability could make all the difference.
Those with elderly loved ones who will soon become candidates for long-term care should investigate the availability of resources. Engaging in a proactive search for long-term care resources before the need becomes urgent is a good use of time and energy.
Looking Closer at Long-Term Care
Some anomalous trends are revealed by the data. For example, Oregon has the highest rate in the country when it comes to seniors in residential care communities. Yet it also has one of the lowest rates in the country in terms of seniors living in nursing homes. This suggests that many seniors in Oregon are in need of some assistance. However, they are not in such dire need that they are ready to move into nursing homes.
It is possible that residential care communities in states like Oregon provide higher levels of care than residential care communities in other states. As such, caregivers for elderly people would do well to investigate the residential care communities in their respective states. Determining what level of care is available can assist with planning for the long-term care needs of elderly loved ones.
Potential Uses for the Information
Aside from enabling caregivers to proactively plan care for the elderly, this information is useful to others too. It can be of use to healthcare providers and advocates for elder care. Healthcare providers may use the information to identify local trends in elder care resource use and demand. This, in turn, can enable them to more accurately identify potential sites where additional long-term care facilities are a must.
By pinpointing trends, healthcare providers can better identify key areas in need of assistance in their own deployment of resources. This, in turn, can lead to better and more timely care for seniors who need it most.
Caretakers Should Be Proactive
For those who have elderly loved ones in need of long-term care, or soon to be so, the National Study of Long-Term Care Providers is an important source of information. Of course, family members should not rely only on one source to determine the best care plan. Seasons.com provides other information that may be of use. What is more, when contacted, Seasons.com staff will happily direct seekers of information to other helpful resources.
Harris-Kojetin, L., Sengupta, M., Park-Lee, E., Valverde, R. (2013). Long-Term Care Services in the United States: 2013 Overview. Vital & Health Statistics. Series 3, Analytical and Epidemiological Studies, (37):1-107. Available at http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/26158640. Last visited October 2, 2016.
Harris-Kojetin, L., Sengupta, M., Park-Lee, E., Valverde, R., Caffrey, C., et al. (2016). Long-Term Care Providers and services users in the United States: data from the National Study of Long-Term Care Providers, 2013-2014. Vital & Health Statistics. Series 3, Analytical and Epidemiological Studies, (38):x-xii; 1-105]. Available at http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/27023287. Last visited October 2, 2016.
Mullaney, T. (September 25, 2016). States Where Seniors Use Assisted Living the Most. Seniorhousingnews.com. Available at http://seniorhousingnews.com/2016/09/25/states-seniors-use-assisted-living/. Last visited October 2, 2016.