LTC stats book nirvana for nerds, merely required reading for the rest of us

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

It has been said the rear view mirror offers little help when trying to navigate the road ahead. But it's tough to know where to go if you don't know where you've been — or even where you are.

That bit of dime store philosophy helps explain why I don't agree with the argument that stats books become obsolete the day they are published. In fact, they can be downright useful.

That's certainly true for the tome that the CDC's Center for Health Statistics released Thursday. Yes, “Long-Term Care Services in the United States: 2013 Overview” does eat up more than 100 pages. Yes, it's somewhat tedious. And I agree it could be used to treat insomnia.

That noted, it's the first of its kind and it's required reading for anyone who wants to understand the long-term care field today.

Not sure if a spoiler alert is needed, but here are some of its more notable findings:

  • About 58,000 paid, regulated long-term care providers served about 8 million people across our nation in 2012.
  • The full tab for long-term care services ranges between $211 billion and $306 billion.
  • When it comes to long-term care settings, our nation is dotted with 15,700 nursing homes, 22,000 residential care facilities, 12,200 home health agencies and 4,800 adult day care centers.
  • Among nursing homes, roughly 69% are for-profit, 25% are nonprofit and 6% are government/other.
  • About 952,000 employee full-time equivalents work in nursing homes; about 1.5 million work in the entire long-term care field.
  • Regarding nursing home services: 99% offer therapeutic services, 97% offer pharmacy or pharmacist services, 90% offer social work services, 87% offer mental health or counseling and 79% offer hospice services.
  • Among nursing home residents: 42% are age 85 or older, 28% are 75 to 84, and about 15% are in the 65 to 74 range. Another 15% are under age 65.
  • Nursing home residents mostly require help with bathing (96%), dressing (91%), toileting (87%) and eating (56%).
  • Nearly half of all residents (49%) have a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and/or depression.
  • There are two women for every man in a nursing home, on average.
  • Nursing homes are used mostly by non-Hispanic whites, who constitute 79% of all residents.

Those are just the highlights. Similar information is available for other long-term care settings.

This book on long-term care services hardly explains where the field will be in five years. But it paints in vivid detail where it is now.


John O'Connor is Editorial Director at McKnight's. Follow him @ltcritr.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.