Home care for elderly is on the increase as economy changes

Published: Mar. 27, 2013 at 8:32 PM CDT|Updated: May. 26, 2013 at 8:32 PM CDT
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In East Texas, the trend continues to show more people choosing home health care for seniors instead of the 24-hour care of a nursing home.

Nationwide there has been a steady decrease in nursing home use in the past ten years, and in Texas, the numbers mirror that national trend.

Curt Smith with ETMC Home Health says technology is one reason for the increase.

"I think the industry as a whole has changed and developed new technologies and the ability to care for seniors at home," Smith said.

One of the largest groups of seniors moving to home health is those on Medicaid.

Last year alone, 94,242 seniors in Texas choose nursing home care. And 183,562 chose home health according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Mark Moore with Briarcliff Health Center says he believes the difficult economy is to blame.

"Whenever someone is placed in our facility, say under Medicaid, there is a Medicaid applied income amount they have to pay, which is basically their social security check.  Now the trend that we're seeing is that people are trying to stay home longer so they can retain that social security check, to help out with their daily bills, cost of living, things like that," Moore said.

Mark said it is slightly effecting business.

"Obviously we are reimbursed by our census, so we try to get as many people as we can, as quickly as we can, and hold on to them for as long as we can. And try to get them as healthy as we can."

Layoffs could be an issue, as well.

"With fewer people in here, sometimes we have to do cutbacks on staff and things like that."

Doug Mehling with At Home Healthcare says the option is becoming a more popular option in health care.

"I think that the trend towards home care and the care that  home care can exercise is going to continue to be a big factor in the health care system," Mehling said.

But Mehling doesn't think this trend will eliminate the need for nursing homes overall.

"It's not like home health care can really replace nursing homes; when someone needs 24-hour care they can get it much more effectively and cost-effectively through a nursing home," Mehling said.

Home healthcare is when one pays a company to send a nurse to make home visits as frequently as needed. Where as nursing homes provide a place for seniors to live and 24-hour care.

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