Relatively low percentage of U.S. residents in long-term care: report

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Relatively low percentage of U.S. residents in long-term care: report
Relatively low percentage of U.S. residents in long-term care: report

The percent of the over-65 population living in skilled nursing facilities or other residential care settings or receiving care at home ranges from 0.8% in Poland to 22.1% in Israel, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Of 26 countries ranked in 2013 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in research cited in the report, the United States ranked seventh lowest, with 6.4% of the 65+ population living in SNFs or other residential care settings or receiving home healthcare.

The bureau released “An Aging World: 2015” (PDF) on March 28. This year's report, the fifth commissioned by the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging, uses data from several sources to examine health, economic and demographic characteristics of the older population throughout the world.

Provisions for healthcare at older ages more often are available in countries that have social protection systems or universal care schemes, the report states.

The four most common models for paying for long-term care, according to research cited in the report, are special LTC insurance, such as what is available in Germany, Japan and South Korea; general taxation, as is done in Austria; a combination of insurance, taxation and private contributions, as in Greece; and special programs, such as those in use in the Netherlands. Private co-funding also plays a role in almost all European countries, the report states. Care provided differs in coverage, degree of cost-sharing, the scope and depth of coverage and providers' qualifications.

“Outside of wealthy countries, long-term care remains a neglected policy issue,” the authors write. Many lower-income countries' expectations that family members of aging adults will provide such care are being challenged, they add, but worldwide, unpaid family caregiving remains the main source of long-term care.

The United States' 65+ population is projected to nearly double over the next three decades, growing from 48 million to 88 million by 2050. The Census Bureau, however, projects that the U.S. population will age at a slower rate compared with other countries. Worldwide, the 65+ population will more than double to 1.6 billion by 2050, according to the report.

“The United States was the 48th oldest country out of 228 countries and areas in the world in 2015,” said Wan He, a demographer on population aging research at the Census Bureau. By 2050, the older share of the U.S. population will increase to 22.1%, he added, but the United States will fall to 85th place because of the more rapid pace of aging in many countries in Asia and Latin America.

Japan is the current oldest country in the world and will retain that position in 2050. Europe is still the oldest region and is projected to remain so by 2050.

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