The Ever Growing Need for Nursing Home Regulation
Demographically speaking, the United States has never been older and soon enough, there is going to be an even larger population of older Americans in the country. By the end of 2058, the number of people over the age of 65 is going to almost double from 47.8 to 88 million, with ten million of them being over the age of 90.With this happening, more post retirement, nursing home, and in home care will be needed. With such a large jump in older Americans, the job with the largest growth is the home health aide. Over the last 10 years, the number of aides has doubled, with 2.2 million people now working in this position. The problem with home health aides though is the position pays very little at around $10 an hour, which does not attract the best quality applicants. An additional 10 million aides are going to be required to keep up with the demand, but they will be hard to find since the pay is so little.
There are 16,000 nursing homes with 1.4 million residents, and this is going to have to increase due to the older population increase. One positive thing is that more people are able to stay in their homes as they get older, reducing the nursing home demand. The people admitted to nursing homes now are usually suffering from complex medical issues and the nursing home is the last resort for them and their families.
Nursing home abuse is very prevalent throughout the industry. Just recently Massachusetts settled cases where workers failed to give medications, leading to premature deaths. In 1973 Nelson Rockefeller created the Temporary State Commission on Living Cost, which investigated elder patient abuse and Medicaid fraud in the nursing home industry. It uncovered horrible conditions and fraudulent activity in nursing homes. Even with increased legislation and oversight, nursing home abuse is still a large problem. The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance recently held hearings on abuse in the nursing home industry and in one hearing, it was found that a nursing home with the highest possible ranking was fined for physical and verbal abuse the year before.
With the increasingly older population, there is going to be a need for more oversight to help protect the ever growing elder population. The government pays for more than 80 percent of all nursing home care, making it a hotbed for fraud and unscrupulous practices. If uniform regulations and enforcement are available, abuse, waste, and fraud can be reduced, helping older generations as they age.