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Nursing Home or Your Home?

New Hampshire is aging. The 60+ population is expected to swell from 262,000 today to 419,000 in 2020 and 504,000 by 2030. Just think what public policy implications this growth has on the Granite State, especially how New Hampshire supports and funds a system of care to meet the needs of this aging population.

Currently, over 80% of New Hampshire’s long-term care funding goes to institutional care – like nursing homes – and only 20% to less expensive and more popular home- and community-based care.

“The first problem is between what is available and what people want,” said AARP New Hampshire State President Fred Kocher. A 2009 survey of AARP members in New Hampshire found only 2% wants care delivered in a nursing home. Contrast that with the seven out of ten who want care delivered at home. This is just one of the reasons AARP New Hampshire has made long-term care a top priority.

“This is also a very personal issue for me, having watched my mother lose her quality of life with institutional care and get it back with home-based care,” said Kocher.

“The second problem is cost,” continued Kocher. “It makes no sense to continue on the path we’re on, spending eight of ten long-term care dollars on the most expensive type of care. Given New Hampshire’s financial challenges, the time has come to reform our current system of long-term care.” On average, home care costs about 60% less than the cost of a nursing home. Twenty-five residents served at home – instead of in a nursing home – translate into a yearly savings of $1 million for the state of New Hampshire.

It’s hard to imagine that most of us will need the assistance of our long-term care system at some point in our lives. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information, www.longtermcare.gov about 70% of individuals 65+ will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime. The bulk of those who need care will need it from the age of 80 onward.

“We are on a collision course,” added Kocher. “Revamping our long-term care system is an absolute necessity. The system we have in place today may have worked in the past, but it won’t in the future. The cost of inaction is great, for individuals, families, communities, taxpayers and the state.”

What can AARP members and their families do?

First, review AARP’s report – New Hampshire’s Long-Term Care System: Unaffordable and Unsustainable – for a good overview of the current system, where it fails, what it costs, and suggestions for a revamped, revitalized system.

Next, call your New Hampshire Representative or Senator and let them know you support shifting funds currently used for nursing home care to long-term care services that allow people to stay in their homes and communities. Share with them the AARP report mentioned above.

Finally, join AARP’s campaign to rebalance New Hampshire’s system of long-term care, adding more home- and community-based options, and saving money. Contact Steve Griffin at nh@aarp.org to find out how you can help.

“Change is never going to happen without the citizen of New Hampshire telling our state leaders the time has come to invest in more home- and community-based care,” concluded Kocher. “We can’t afford not to.”

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