NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More Nursing Homes Welcome Alzheimer's Patients

August 9, 2000

Until recently, nursing homes generally avoided admitting patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. They had found that caring for them was much more costly and labor intensive than caring for the merely aged.

But Alzheimer's admissions are growing as nursing homes confront greater competition, along with dwindling numbers of seniors needing their care.

  • Last year, the overall nursing-home occupancy rate dropped to 83 percent -- compared to 88 percent in 1991 -- even though the elderly population has surged.
  • At the same time, the number of assisted living facilities -- whose residents generally require less assistance than those in nursing homes -- has jumped to about 7,500 from 3,800 in 1994.
  • The average annual cost to stay in a nursing home is $46,000.
  • Currently, 12.6 percent of the country's 17,000 nursing homes have dementia units, up from 6.2 percent in 1990 -- and more are planning changes.

Previous to the current trend among nursing homes, relatives of Alzheimer's sufferers had only two alternatives to caring for them, experts say -- placing them in locked mental institutions or keeping them at home.

Source: J.C. Conklin, "Nursing Homes Add 'Special Care,'" Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2000.


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