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Sleeping Giant Awakens

By John Stauffer

John Stauffer writes about the Sleeping Giant - the Boom GenerationIt is clear to me that the Boom Generation is a sleeping giant that is beginning to awaken…and it is cranky! For too long the needs of the families of the baby boomers have faced some daunting care circumstances. They are often faced with the care of aging/ailing parents and in some cases still raising children of their own – some with lifetime disabling conditions.  Organizations like ours dedicated to providing respite care across that very broad age spectrum are uniquely positioned to help, and also to feel the pain of an often-inadequate health and care system.

Each year I attend at least one industry-specific event. This year I attended NADSA the National Adult Day Services Association conference in Indianapolis. My trip was eventful for several reasons. First, and most important, was receiving the latest research aggregated in a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  The data shared in that report coupled with the changing trends in the health care industry had my head spinning.   Maybe that is why I had a fender-bender while going to the conference.  (Good news, no long term physical damage and the car was repaired in record time.)

I know you have heard the statistic about the number of boomers in America turning 65 each day (10,000!) and that fully one/third of them will need help to remain safely in their homes. But the stats that really got to me in this latest report were:

  • In 2017 50% of our population will be over the age of 50
  • Among seniors, better socialization reduces the incidence of stroke by 71%
  • Improved sleep reduces the incidence of stroke by 58%
  • Extreme loneliness is equal to the impact of smoking 15 cigarettes a day and reduces life expectancy by 8 years
  • 60% of those in long term care or senior assisted living facilities NEVER get a visitor

This tells me that the need for Adult Day programs is greater than ever.  Additionally, there was a law passed by the Feds in 2014 called the Impact Act which is fundamentally changing the way major health care organizations are operating.  The Impact Act relates to how Medicaid dollars are used. Prior to 2014 all of the Medicaid dollars were funneled to the large conglomerate health care providers which inspired many health organizations to create mega- operations with traditional hospital care, rehab care, adult day care all under one roof, effectively shutting out many smaller organizations like Helping Hands Respite Care.  Now large health care organizations must prove that those Medicaid dollars are being spread out.  The government is saying the Medicaid dollars are supposed to be used for the best care for the individual regardless of the size the organization.Comparison Chart showing cost and features for Adult Day programs versus Home Care, Assisted Living or Nursing Home

The Impact Act of 2014 further complicated things for major health care organizations by regulating the amount of dollars in the Medicaid “bucket” for an individual.  This has meant that hospitals are being financially penalized for repeat visits to the hospital or emergency room by the same patient. These limitations are forcing managed health care organizations to re-evaluate how to best utilize the Medicaid dollars and who to collaborate with to maximize the health outcome for individuals.

What does this mean for Adult Day Service programs like ours?  In Michigan, there are no licensing regulations for Adult Day programs, yet statistics support the statement that Adult Day programs offer the lowest cost and the highest value.

Now is the time for Adult Day programs to create viable partnerships with health care organizations and family medical practitioners.  The facts in the chart give some great reasons why!  It is conceivable that our organization could help save our hospital partners millions of dollars over time.

John Stauffer is the Executive Director of Helping Hands Respite Care in East Lansing, Michigan and is the current President of the Michigan Adult Day Services Association. He and several members of MADSA are working on a common language and reporting procedure to support the efficacy of Adult Day programs in Michigan.  Helping Hands Respite Care operates an Adult Day Services program with a positive track record for over 30 years. Originally established by a group of nurses, the program continues to have a staff nurse in attendance daily.