At a time when policymakers are trying to reduce hospital-related costs, a relatively simple adjustment could help dramatically. The proposed solution? Invest more in affordable seniors’ housing that offers supportive social services, according to a Rutgers University study.

“By receiving timely and appropriate support in the community, this vulnerable population may be able to avoid hospitalization or at least use it less often,” said Michael Gusmano, Ph.D., an associate professor of health policy at the Rutgers School of Public Health. He led the investigation.

Previous studies have shown that housing conditions affect health outcomes of the elderly. But there has been scant information about the effect support services — including physical and psychological assessments; counseling and advocacy; health education; wellness and physical activity and socialization programs — on hospital costs, he added.

Full findings appear in the journal Health Affairs.

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