With more people living longer and with the first of the Baby Boom generation reaching retirement age,, it is hardly surprising that the number of people requiring some sort of long-term nursing care is growing. According to the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA), people who reach the age of 65 have a 40 percent likelihood of entering a nursing home; by 2020, approximately 12 million older Americans will need long-term care. The type of care available today fills a variety of needs; traditional nursing care for the infirm or incapacitated, assisted living for people who are still somewhat independent, adult day care for those who need supervision when the family is not available, and home health care for those who want or need to remain in their own homes.
Until the twentieth century, elderly people who could no longer take care of themselves were taken in by family members; those without money or family were placed in almshouses. Older Americans today have much better options and can expect a much better quality of life. With so many facilities (17,000 nursing homes alone), choosing the right one can be a challenge. Those who must reside in nursing homes—and their families—need to determine the best option based on quality of care, comfort level, location, and cost. The smart consumer will do enough research to know exactly what to look for in choosing a nursing facility.