A special report by Anne Tergesen in Sunday's Wall Street Journal, "How Covid-19 Will Change Aging and Retirement," features insights from Sarah Slocum, co-director of Altarum's Program to Improve Eldercare, along with highlights from the program's recent survey of nursing home residents.
"As the pandemic wreaks havoc on our mental and physical health, it is also quietly reshaping how Americans will face retirement and old age in the years to come," writes Tergesen.
The pandemic may push more people to age at home, she writes, adding "community-based programs will expand, including the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, a Medicare-sponsored service that is currently helping 50,000 people with such needs as medical services, day care, home care and transportation. The program costs Medicare and Medicaid an average of about $7,000 per person a month, versus $9,000 per person for nursing homes, according to Altarum."
Slocum notes that financial pressures facing all actors—the federal government, states and consumers—signals that the long-term care sector will undergo substantial reshaping to improve the safety and quality of services, and the quality of life for older Americans.
Tergesen quotes Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania, who says "You will see a lot more focus on aging at home and figuring out how to shift the financial incentives to make that work."
The report features data from Altarum's survey of nursing home residents, which found a dramatic reduction in resident activities after the onset of the pandemic, leading to social isolation and loneliness.
While the pandemic will shift trends in aging and retirement, nursing homes will continue to be a critical part of the long-term care infrastructure. The pandemic presents an opportunity to strengthen the nursing home system through initiatives such as culture change, training and improved professional supports for nursing home staff, and policy reforms.
Learn more about Altarum's Program to Improve Eldercare and how we're helping to build a stronger eldercare system through our work with state and federal agencies, nursing homes, and community-based organizations.