Healthwatch – Senior Citizens and Healthcare

With the American “baby boomer” population either already 65 or quickly nearing that age, immediate attention is being focused on this population not only by the health care industry, but also by the government as they address changes associated with Obamacare. Add that to the fact that life expectancies are at an all-time high, despite the growth in life threatening diseases and you have a perfect market for health care related topics. This portion of the population is targeted heavily for advertising from drug companies, insurance companies, healthcare companies and retail outlets and now, Medicare. Because older Americans traditionally vote in large numbers, the Federal Government is very wary of alienating them, all the while understanding that the Medicare and Social Security systems in place must be modified to meet the growing demand of the population. Because this is such an important target market for the healthcare industry in general, it is key to know the dynamics of the population in order to serve them in any capacity.


While 83% of Americans over the age of 65 reported that they were in good, very good or excellent health, 31% reported that they considered themselves in fair or poor health. The CDC conducts regular studies to evaluate measures of physical health. In the most recent survey, it was discovered that overall, 25 percent of Americans reported some level of mobility limitation (problems with walking, standing or climbing). In addition, 7 percent of American women report highly severe mobility limitations.


Home health care services are seeing a rise in the number of patients seen every year. In 2013 alone, approximately 1,355,300 patients received home health care services from 7,200 agencies. Of these patients:

  • 70% were ages 65 and older
  • 52% of home care patients listed Medicare as their primary payment source
  • 20% of home care patients listed Medicaid as their primary payment source
  • 17% of home care patients listed private sources as their primary payment source

The most prevalent admission diagnoses for home health care patients over the age of 65 are:

  • 11% Heart disease
  • 8% Diabetes
  • 7% cerebral vascular disease
  • 5% COPD
  • 5% malignant neoplasms
  • 4% congestive heart failure
  • 4% osteoarthritis and allied disorders
  • 4% fractures
  • 3% hypertension

Other statistics include:

  • 75% of patients received medical/skilled nursing services, 44% received personal care and 37% received therapeutic services.
  • Over half of home care patients received assistance from a home health care agency with at least one activity of daily living (ADL), and of those patients, 83% received help with bathing or showering.
  • The average length of service since admission for home care patients was 312 days; patients with an admission diagnosis of pneumonia had the shortest length of service (111 days), whereas patients with essential hypertension had the longest length of service (515 days).


These statistics are used by the Federal Government to better understand the Medicare recipient population and are also useful to all healthcare providers in general.

Sources: National Center for Health Statistics, CDC