The elderly population of the U.S. perpetually grows, keeping agencies and health care systems searching for more effective ways to provide excellent, yet affordable, health care alternatives.
The Veterans Administration (VA) has led the way with innovative home care for many years. In spite of controversies and bureaucratic problems you may have read about, it has kept a focused mission on aging veterans. The VA continues to pioneer quality programs amidst budget restrictions and ever-challenging increases in the numbers of aging adults. Since 2000, veterans needing home care quadrupled, but VA medical centers across the country have responded by adding palliative care programs to meet the need.
Why would VA want to lead the way in innovative health care? Consider this… Veterans now have a median age of 64 years, compared to 44 years for non-veterans. Our older adult population is climbing with 10,000 boomers turning 65 daily, and aging veteran numbers are mounting even faster. This has made a demand for novel programs and solutions.
People older than 85 in the VA population have just about tripled between 2000 and 2010. The VA thus responded as trailblazers in order to support the social, behavioral, and physical needs of its veterans. This latest approach allows patients to tailor their health care in a unique way. Budgets with flexibility allow decisions based on their personal preferences and home care needs.
The VA leads the way with a hospice program that harmonizes with palliative care, allowing medical treatments to be administered along with hospice care. At this time, Medicare won’t consider or allow this.
Before this program, veterans with kidney failure might be forced to forgo dialysis if they were receiving hospice care. This new compassionate approach means aging adults won’t have to forgo any treatments when electing hospice. This VA option will hopefully influence Medicare to improve offerings, as well.
VA’s novel care of hospice services combined with home care typically lessens pain and eases patients’ transition into their last days. There were initial concerns that this would be more expensive, but the combination has now proven it’s actually less costly than the alternative. Home care options reduced hospitalizations, which reduced total health care costs.
Along with rising health care costs, home care options for aging adults are part of the solution. It can be confusing trying to navigate it all yourself. Your local Home Care Assistance office can help you sort through home care options for you or your loved one. Call today!