Despite the state’s aging population, the common age of Ohio nursing-home citizens has decreased from 83.1 years to 77.3 in less than two years, according to a state-commissioned report. Several reasons underlie the pattern. On one hand, far more senior Ohioans who would have been in assisted living centers 20 years ago are in their own homes today, thanks to the state’s focus on less-expensive home-health services. Among Ohioans, at least 60 years of age who need help looking after for themselves, 55% obtained proper care in a seniors care facility this year compared with 91% in 1993. And the state now is based far less on nursing-home care than in the 90’s, when Ohio had one of the highest rates of nursing-home use and its State Medicaid programs per-capita nursing-home expenses were among the biggest in the country.
Ohio’s rate has enhanced from 47th among states, to 24th, said Bob Applebaum, director of the Ohio Long-term Care Research Project at Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center. “It symbolizes an amazing success tale for the state,” he said. But a malfunction in the state’s healthcare system also is a factor in the lower regular age of nursing-home citizens, Applebaum said. The number of nursing-home citizens younger than 60 more than tripled between 1994 and 2012, from 4% to 12.7%. And 1 in 6 State Medicaid enrollees residing in assisted living centers was younger than 60 this year. That is an increase of 26% from 1997 and coincided with an 11% drop in the number of State Medicaid programs enrollees older than 60 in assisted living centers.
In the spring of 2012, there were 8,723 State Medicaid program enrollees younger than 60 in assisted living centers. Of them, 18.5% needed no assistance with “activities of daily living” such as showering, putting on clothes, eating and self care. Competition from assisted-living centers and home-health organizations also has forced assisted living facilities to keep prices down, Applebaum said. Ohio has kept speed with its growing inhabitants of elderly citizens with serious problems, but that growth is expected to speed up over the next 25 years, increasing in size.