3 Big Trends Shaping the Senior and Resident Care Industries

Baby Boomers, born post World War II through the mid-1960s, have always been seen as trendsetters who redefine traditional values and usher in societal changes. Even as the generation enters retirement, their particular physical needs are redefining healthcare. Here are three big trends shaping the senior and resident care industries.

1. Competition and Regulation Forcing Higher Quality of Care

Exercise classes at a Senior Care Facility

Group fitness classes are a popular amenity at senior care facilities.

With the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, healthcare facilities are competing for both customers and Medicare dollars. According to an article in the New York Times, “On a typical day in 2000, about 9 percent of residents in an average nursing home were covered by Medicare, according to federal data. By 2014, that had risen to 15 percent.”

Facility administrators and operators are now offering a myriad of amenities including recreational facilities, swimming pools, upgraded furnishings, and designer-style accommodations. The service levels of facilities are also changing. Some facilities offer customized dining, transportation services, laundry programs, and complete physical therapy programs.

Furthermore, new regulations and enforcement measures are impacting the quality care at long term care facilities. In the aforementioned New York Times article, Dr. David Gifford, Senior Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs at the American Health Care Association said, “I think you’re seeing a much greater linking of quality, and an emphasis on it.” Healthcare facilities are demanding higher levels of care to keep up with a regulatory environment that is continually changing.

As the demand for long term care facilities increases, we can expect the quality of service and amenities to also increase. Federal and state regulators are pushing for greater scrutiny in long term care facilities to ensure residents are being well cared for.

2. Bariatric Solutions for a Growing Population

Due to the increase in American obesity rates over the last 35 years, there is an unprecedented need for products and services that can accommodate the growing population of bariatric residents. This need impacts all facets of bariatric care and is driving the necessity for new and improved products, from bath safety to in-room equipment.

Pressure redistribution surfaces, such as wheelchair cushions and bed mattresses, have seen significant improvements in applicability for bariatric residents.

Mattresses and Bedframe

Traditionally, bedframes are one of the most expensive purchases in a resident room, which naturally makes them one of the first products to modify. Since beds must fit through doorways in the event of an emergency such as an evacuation or fire, manufacturers have been hard at work designing better solutions for bariatric patients.

One of the fastest growing trends in the skilled nursing home setting is adjustable bed frames. These frames offer the ability to change the length and width of a bed, allowing a more functional and comfortable solution for larger residents.

“Many manufacturers have noticed that residents have gotten taller and wider over the years,” says Nick Haralambis, RN and Resident Environment Product Consultant for HD Supply Facilities Maintenance. “Now, bed manufacturers are making beds that adjust longer and wider as a valued feature.”

The lifespan of a bed is 10-15 years, so purchasing an expandable bed has been a good option to protect a nursing home’s investment.

Regency XL Bariatric wheelchair is designed to support larger body types.

Furthermore, mattresses for these beds can have a large impact on the overall comfort of residents. Choosing the right mattress with the proper pressure distribution can alleviate some of the physical issues that can arise during long term care such as bed sores.

Wheelchairs

Along with adjustable beds, larger and more durable wheelchairs and wheelchair accessories are on the rise. These heftier variations typically include reinforced carbon steel frames to support larger weight capacities.

Wheelchair cushions are being manufactured using advanced technology that allows for a more even distribution of pressure to create a more comfortable experience.

For residents requiring wheelchairs, small changes to improve comfort are making a big difference.

3. More Seniors Preferring to “Age in Place”

As the senior population continues to rise, so does the demand for senior living facilities. With the industry flourishing from unprecedented demand, seniors are finding it harder and harder to find an affordable living facility that suits their medical needs.

Facilities that accommodate special illnesses such as Alzheimer’s are becoming scarce as the need for memory care increases due to a longer average life span among residents. The lack of resources available leaves seniors with few options outside of living at home.

Thus, less seniors embrace retirement homes these days, preferring instead to “age in place,” meaning they plan to live in the home and community with which they are accustomed.

Aging in place

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 93% of Medicare enrollees aged 65+ were already aging in place in 200.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 93% of Medicare enrollees aged 65+ were already aging in place in 200.

While the desire to remain at home is clear, the changes that need to occur in healthcare and the home environment are being defined.

Care providers are finding new ways to bring their services to patients’ homes. Emerging technologies, such as digital medication dispensers and remote monitoring systems, are making it easier to provide long-distance care.*

As homeowners face mobility challenges, there is an increasing need to update their home with products such as zero threshold showers, wider doors to accommodate wheelchairs, and easy-to-grasp faucets.

While the “how” to age in place is still being defined, the “why” remains clear: lack of demand for proper care facilities. While the market continues to adjust, service providers need to focus on what keeps patients happy and healthy at home.

*http://www.aarp.org/home-family/personal-technology/info-2014/is-this-the-end-of-the-nursing-home.html

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