(HealthDay News) — A growing number of older Americans are developing chronic diseases but can’t cover the costs of long-term care in a nursing facility, the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA)-funded report says.
The analysis of national data revealed that chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes rose among older Americans between 1998–2008. By 2008, 41% of older adults had ≥3 chronic conditions, 51% had one or two, and only 8% had none, according to the NIA-funded Census Bureau study. While rates of smoking and excessive drinking have fallen among Americans aged ≥65, the percentage of overweight and obese seniors has risen, the report notes.
The NIA investigation also looked at the costs of nursing home care and older Americans’ ability to pay for it. In 2010, the average cost of a private room in a nursing home was $229 a day – or almost $84,000 per year. However, the NIA team calculated that less than one-fifth of seniors can afford to live in a nursing home for >3 years, and nearly two-thirds can’t afford even one year.
The statistics represent “an approaching crisis in caregiving,” Richard Suzman, director of the NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research, said in an agency news release. “Baby boomers had far fewer children than their parents. Combined with higher divorce rates and disrupted family structures, this will result in fewer family members to provide long-term care in the future,” Suzman explained. “This will become more serious as people live longer with conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.”