LTC Bullet: The Healthier You Are, the Longer You May Spend in a Nursing Home
Monday July 27, 1998
It's not news that Americans are living longer and healthier lives. However, the impact of this fact on our ability to finance long-term care for the baby boom generation definitely is news.
In the current issue (July 1998) of The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Social Sciences, Sarah B. Laditka's article "Modeling Lifetime Nursing Home Use Under Assumptions of Better Health" examines the following hypothesis: "If members of the baby boom generation spend a larger percentage of their longer lives in better health, a lower demand for nursing homes is likely to result than if they live a greater proportion of their longer lives in worse health." (p. S178)
Sounds reasonable, but here's what the study found: "In
contrast with what was hypothesized, when increased longevity
came as a result of better health, the proportion of life spent
in a nursing home (i.e., relative nursing home use) did not decrease
or change. Second, better health did not appreciably reduce the
proportion of the cohorts that used nursing homes
health did result in an increase in the absolute number of years
older persons spent in nursing homes.
In other words, the healthier you are, the longer you are likely
to live; and the longer you live, the more likely you are to need
expensive long-term care. So much for the common objection to
long-term care insurance that: "I'm healthy and my family
is long-lived so I'll never need that coverage." The truth
is that healthy people need long-term care protection even more
than sick people, who may pass on relatively quickly and inexpensively.