When men and women reach their golden years, their primary focus is usually set on enjoying fulfilling, albeit slower, lifestyles.
A large variety of senior residential living communities have emerged to serve this burgeoning population – from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing and continuous care. The decision to change residences and enter one of these types of living facilities is a significant transition for a senior who has carried on a lifestyle for years, often decades, in one place.
At the same time, the need for long-term services and support for Baby Boomers is projected to increase. The population of individuals with impairments will increase from 6.1 million in 2005 to 8.8 million in 2020. People who are getting older need more assistance with daily activities. In Los Angeles County, the Department of Aging has projected that LA County residents over the age of 60 will double over the next 20 years (from 1.5 million to almost 3 million).
Thankfully, new trends in healthcare, such as hospitals without inpatient beds called “micro-hospitals” and the creation of advanced medical homes, can make that transition to a new residence easier while also improving care to an aging Baby Boomer population.
Medical homes, otherwise known as congregate living health facilities, are part of what is known as Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS).
Demand for HCBS continues to grow as people are getting older and people with disabilities are living longer.
The increasing potential is part of a trend with technology and knowledge at the heart of a shift in physician-patient interaction, indicating that care is moving away from institutional care and into the home environment.
These residential homes aim to provide inpatient care, including essential services such as medical supervision, 24-hour skilled nursing and supportive care, pharmacy services, dietary services and social and recreational activities.
They also hold the potential to provide the most sophisticated technology available, including remote patient monitoring, care-coordination tools and telemedicine that allows physicians, hospitals, insurers and other stakeholders to engage in the episode of care in the right setting at the right time.
Three things need to happen to foster the trend of smart living homes:
Buy-in from insurance companies. These homes fall under the same regulations as skilled nursing facilities but can save companies 40 percent on the cost of care because they are smaller and more efficient.
The use of predictive analytics. By using predictive analytics in conjunction with these homes, physicians can provide continuous insight, monitoring and targeted interventions to encounter fewer health-related complications, identify gaps in care and reduce the need for expensive treatments and emergency room (ER) visits, which are critical in chronic care management.
Make the patient the priority. We know that patients are more comfortable in a home-based environment. A medical home provides an opportunity for better care by also avoiding the financial burdens that accompany hospital readmission.
The number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent.
Technology can play a vital role in ensuring peace of mind for older Americans – and those with disabilities – as well as their families and caregivers.
Cesar Landeros is chief executive of L&L Health Management in Beverly Hills and a member of the faculty at the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University.
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