Aging in Place Less Expensive than Nursing Homes

July 8, 2013 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Couple standing in front of houseAn aging research project in Baltimore is experimenting with how much tax money can be saved by helping low income seniors remain in their homes through minor repairs and home improvements.

The project will bring assistance to 800 seniors to evaluate if the fix ups, in addition to some strategies for living, will be less expensive to tax payers vs. the cost of nursing homes.  The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are investing $8 million in the project.

Almost all seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible.  Research has shown that there is benefit to keeping seniors in an environment where they have familiar social contacts and routines.

The “Capable Project” — Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders — is being evaluated as a way to ameliorate the issues that lead to expensive nursing home admissions, a good portion of which may be preventable.

Simple revisions and modifications allow the elderly to remain at home safely.  In the Baltimore project, these included things like:

  • Strengthening of wobbly banisters and handrails to allow safer mobility
  • Raised toilet seats
  • Repair of loose tiles to avoid tripping
  • Install grab bars in the bath area
  • Double railings on stairways to let people steady themselves with both arms
  • Install ramps
  • Install risers to make it easier to get in and out of bed
  • Installation of night lights and brighter bulbs in dark areas

The repairs are also accompanied with home visits by nurses and occupational therapists to help train seniors in strategies they can use to get by safely, independently.

The results so far have promise.  Over four months, the project has cost $4,000 per senior.  Compare this with the average cost of $6,700 per month for nursing home care.  Researchers suspect they can delay the need for nursing home admission by a year or more.

 

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