Where your future referrals might be coming from

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James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan


Whether you're a kickball captain on the playground, a Little League coach on draft day or a shopper crossing the threshold for a big new sale, you know the look you give.

Wordlessly, you quickly survey the landscape to figure out what you might be in for next.

As a long-term care provider, that's how I'd view the new results from the United Health Foundation's fifth annual "America's Health Ranking Senior Report."

While it paints extremely broad pictures, such as how potentially preventable hospitalizations and hospital deaths among Medicare beneficiaries have dropped significantly over the last four years, it does much more for you.

It supplies a fuller picture of the state of American senior — for the better and worse.

Since the first year of the report in 2013, numerous good developments have been observed: rehospitalization rates down, intensive care unit use in the last six months of life down, hip-fracture hospitalization rate down.

But on the other hand, obesity and food insecurity have risen. More than a quarter (27.6%) of adults 65 and older marked a five-year high in obesity levels this year, while 15.8% of adults 60 and older didn't have enough food. At the same time, the reach of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and community support expenditures decreased.

Are you going to be welcoming home-run sluggers to your census or more weak-hitting question marks? It will pay to know. Reading the report's tea leaves also could give you a better idea of what ancillary services or products you might want to add.

In all, the Senior Report ranks each state across 26 measures of health determinants and eight measures of health outcomes. The overall-healthy states are scattered, while the least-healthy states are clustered mostly in the South. If ever there were a roadmap for showing you what kind of future referral you might be facing, this is it.

The 140-page report reveals local levels for physical inactivity, smoking, frequent mental distress, depression, geriatrician supply, “low-care” nursing home residents, and dozens more. It also looks at things like home health care and hospice utilization rates, the latter of which are up sharply in recent years.

By providing the health and well-being data, report authors give policy makers — and eldercare providers — rich data on what they should be preparing for, both in terms of clientele and the types of care they might be needing.

That's a big help when you're team-building, or simply looking to make a good deal.

Follow James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.


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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.