America is facing an explosion in both the relative and absolute number of seniors comprising our population, and with that explosive growth comes an increasing number of difficult choices which will need to be made by an increasing number of seniors, their family members and their caregivers.
Not surprisingly, seniors constantly experience frustration – and in many cases, even anger – over their individual inability to successfully “age-in-place,” especially as their individual need for medical intervention increases. This has led to the recent growth in the field of non-medical “companion care” – now a $17-22.5 billion dollar per year industry. However, there are strong reasons for a medical component to be included in “companion care,” to bridge the gap between unassisted “at home” and the more medically-intensive use of home health agencies and at-home hospice care.
At present, medically-oriented home health services is offered – and often insurance-or Medicare-paid – on a limited number of hours per week, generally to those at home recovering from a hospitalization of some kind. In addition, these payor groups fund at-home hospice care only during the last few months of life.
This highlights the great gap between being able to function and live at-home, and the need to be institutionalized in some kind of extended care facility, from assisted living to full-blown 24/7 nursing home care.