As the American population continues to age, older adults and their loved ones are often forced to make challenging decisions about where they should live. Many older adults choose to age in place, while some move in with family members. But, other older adults opt for retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. Below, we will explore some of the important statistics associated with senior living communities.
Studies show that Americans are living longer and that many are no longer able to rely on relatives, who often live far away, to provide care as they age. As a result, hundreds of health care companies across the country have built a growing number of assisted living facilities. Today, estimates suggest that there are just under 1 million assisted living beds in the United States.
Often, when we think about assisted living facilities, we think about large institutions with hundreds of patients crowded in. But, the senior living statistics indicate that the current realities of assisted living facilities are dramatically different. Facilities average only 33 beds.
Almost 50 percent of assisted living facilities have between 4 and 10 beds. Many people look at this small size as an added perk of a facility, ensuring that their loved one will receive personalized care. This may be true, but it also may not. It is important to look at a wide range of quality indicators when deciding what facility you or your loved one wants to live in.
Perhaps it is not surprising that assisted living facilities have not been built at the same rate across the country. Areas that tend to attract retirees have more assisted living options than Midwest and New England states. Senior living statistics suggest that more than 40 percent of assisted living facilities are located in the Western United States. Another 1/3 of these facilities are in the South.
Assisted living facilities are big businesses, generating healthy profit margins for operators. Therefore, it should not be surprising that more than 55 percent of facilities are part of a chain. Some of these chains may only be two or three facilities, but some chains own large numbers of assisted living and retirement communities across states.
The number of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia continues to grow. Often, families struggle to care for these patients as their diseases progress. But, they want to make sure that they are in a setting that will keep them safe and meet their unique needs. In response to this, more than 1 in 5 facilities offers either memory care units or provides care only for patients impacted by dementia.
Operators of assisted living facilities recognize that their consumers are becoming increasingly savvy. They know what they want to see offered, and meeting these expectations may increase occupancy rates, boosting corporate revenue. Services may include physical and occupational therapy, as well as hospice care.
Different people have different preferences over how they would like to navigate the end of their life journey. Many people prefer to stay in a setting that they are already familiar with. Because of this, assisted living facilities often now provide hospice services to residents. Almost 70 percent of these facilities offer some degree of hospice support and services.
Hospice care is not the only type of differentiated service that facilities provide in an attempt to set them apart from their peers. Estimates indicate that more than 70 percent of facilities offer these services. These services can be particularly important for patients who are addressing health problems, such as strokes. Sometimes, following rehabilitation, these residents may be able to return to their previous homes.
Assisted living facilities are an attractive option for many Americans. Unfortunately, many of them are priced out of this category of housing. On average, assisted living facilities may cost more than $4,000 per month.
Assisted living facilities are pricey across the country and they may be unaffordable for vast swathes of the population. But, these costs are not consistent. They vary dramatically from state to state. For example, in Delaware, assisted living facilities average more than $6500 per month. These geographic differences may reflect, at least in part, the general cost of living differences from area to area.
Even though assisted living costs are shockingly high for many families, it is important to remember that these costs are a fraction of the price tag for nursing homes. On average, nursing homes cost $100,000 per year. In addition, the cost may be much higher in certain high-cost areas. The difference is that most families are not paying these costs out-of-pocket. Instead, they are often paid for via Medicare.
For those experiencing sticker shock looking at assisted living facilities, comparison shopping may be beneficial. Senior Living statistics, for example, show that a home health aide for a year will cost roughly $50,000. This cost may go up if you or your loved one requires specialized care.
Unlike assisted living facilities that tend to be small, nursing home facilities tend to be dramatically larger. The average nursing home has more than one hundred beds. Also, some nursing home facilities may have more than 1,000 beds.
Nursing home facilities are found in every state and territory of the United States. In total, there are roughly 1.7 million nursing home beds. Not all nursing home beds are created equally, however. Some offer higher quality care than others. Unfortunately, abuse may be a significant concern in some of the low-cost nursing homes.
Statistics suggest that roughly 1 in 10 older adults have experienced or continue to experience elder abuse. This abuse can take many different forms. One example is financial abuse, in which a trusted family member may drain an older adult’s bank balance. Older adults may also be vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse.
Even though older adults may experience a wide range of abuse, physical abuse is most commonly experienced. Just under 30 percent of reported abuse is physical. In addition to this, psychological abuse is regularly reported, as is abuse from fellow nursing home residents.
Abuse can happen to vulnerable older adults in any living situation. But, abuse may be more likely to occur in nursing homes. This could be due to chronic understaffing, which has only been worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic. Statistics suggest that 90 percent of nursing homes have staffing shortages.
In nursing homes, staff-to-patient ratios rarely reflect best practice recommendations. For example, these recommendations often range from ratios of 1:3 to 1:6. But, in reality, ratios may be up to 1:15, and even 1:30, in some nursing homes. With ratios that high, it can be challenging to provide high-quality care and ensure that abuse is not happening.
All nursing home residents are vulnerable to abuse, at least to a certain degree. But, some residents are even more vulnerable. The most vulnerable individuals may be those with physical or cognitive disabilities or those with dementia. Roughly 50 percent of patients with dementia may be the victims of elder abuse in a nursing home setting.
Nursing homes tend to be structured differently financially than other health care organizations. Almost 70 percent of nursing homes are for-profit organizations. This is something important to remember when you or your family member are looking at potential nursing homes.
The demographics of nursing home residents do not perfectly mirror general population demographics. For example, almost 70 percent of long-term residents in nursing homes are women. This may reflect multiple trends and factors, including the fact that women outlive their male counterparts.
This is another piece of demographic data that needs to be looked at. Three out of four nursing home residents are white, and Hispanic and Asian adults are dramatically underrepresented in these figures. Some people argue that this is a reflection of cultural norms. Traditionally, Asian and Hispanic families have been more likely to live in multi-generational families. But, this is changing over time.
Often, we assume that all nursing home residents are permanent residents. But, this is simply not true. Many people use nursing homes as short-term rehab facilities after surgeries or catastrophic accidents or injuries. More research still needs to be done on the exact percentage of short-term nursing home residents.
As our society’s views toward aging and death and dying continue to evolve, hospice care is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Current senior living statistics suggest that there are almost 5,000 Medicare-certified hospice facilities.
It is important to remember that a significant portion of hospice care occurs outside of a traditional hospice. Care can also be provided in a patient’s own home or in a nursing home. Many patients prefer this approach since it allows them to stay in an environment that they are familiar with and comfortable with.
In theory, hospice care can provide care and assistance to patients and family members for months as a disease progresses and needs change. But, in reality, this often does not happen. Patient’s needs are only identified late in the disease process. In fact, the median stay in hospice is less than 20 days. One could surmise that quality of life may be improved if patients were able to spend more time in hospice.
The senior community is not monolithic. Needs may vary dramatically from individual to individual. Some older adults may need the level of assistance seen in nursing homes, whereas others may simply need to downsize from larger family homes. These individuals may be looking at one of the approximately 20,000 senior housing facilities in the United States.
Many older Americans tend to retire to warmer areas of the country, such as Florida and Arizona. Some people live in these warmer climates year-round, whereas others are “snowbirds” only. Yet, despite this, geographically senior living communities are relatively evenly distributed across the United States. However, the largest number of communities are in the southeast and the west. Figures lag behind dramatically in the south-central region.
The need for these types of facilities will only continue to grow as the United States population ages. Today, approximately 17 percent of the American population is over the age of 65. Senior living statistics suggest that by 2050, this figure will likely reach 22 percent. Many of these people will be over the age of 80.