Preferring home health care and other alternatives, elderly Americans are not going to nursing homes as much as they did a decade ago.
Between 1985 and 1995, the nursing home population rose 4 percent although the number of people age 65 and over increased 18 percent, according to a survey released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics.Until 1995, nursing home rates had kept pace with increases in the elderly population, the study noted.
"Americans who need long-term care have more choices today," said Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Sha-la-la. "Many more are able to stay in their homes and still receive the care they need."
Shalala attributed the shift to rapid growth in home health care and advances in medical technology that postpone the need for institutional care.
In 1995, about 1.5 million people received care in 16,700 nursing homes. Nine of 10 were at least 65 years old.
The survey also found:
- The number of nursing homes dropped by 13 percent, but the number of beds increased by 9 percent since 1985, an indication of some consolidation in the industry.
- 66 percent of homes were operated for profit, and more than half were part of a chain, up from 41 percent in 1985.
- Nearly 1.8 million beds were available in 1995, with about 87 percent in use.
- More than 35 percent of nursing home residents were 85 or older.