Okay, so if you’re a born-again believer, you’re probably gleefully envisioning heaven or are at least adding “if the Lord tarries” to the question. And if you’re not, and you’re over 40, you may be counting on moving in with your children or enjoying a living arrangement like the Golden Girls’ of 1980s TV fame.
But just say none of these alternatives pans out, and you find yourself unable to live on your own. Will a decent nursing home be an option for you?
The truth is that only God knows for sure. If our economy crashes and modern-day Huns overrun our country, all bets are off. But let’s assume that America’s still the Beautiful and we still have some viable financial resources to work with. What’s likely to be available?
It turns out to be a disturbing scenario.
On the one hand, the demand for nursing-home care is expected to more than double by 2050, according to a study released in 2013 by JAMA and the Kaiser Foundation.
On the other hand, the supply looks like it’s destined to dwindle. Skilled nursing facilities are becoming less and less profitable, according to a recent report. The reasons include sagging occupancy and reimbursement rates--with occupancy declines perhaps related to a boom in building for the assisted-living arm of the eldercare industry.
What will happen to those of us who eventually need skilled nursing care, 24x7?
“It’s literally schools versus nursing homes,” columnist Robert J. Samuelson wrote a few years ago. “We need a better balance between workers’ legitimate desire for a comfortable retirement and society’s larger interests. Instead, our system favors the past over the future. Things could be done to mitigate the bias. None would be easy or popular. But it’s first necessary to acknowledge the bias and discuss it openly. This we are far from doing.”
If you don’t find this commentary chilling, you might want to ponder exactly what this columnist has in mind. Let's hope it won't ultimately turn into yet another case of our wanting to be "just like Europe," birthplace of a brave new world that exalts eldercare "solutions" from assisted suicide to euthanasia.