News Release

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OLDER DISABLED POPULATION INCREASING IN OHIO

04/09/1997

OXFORD, Ohio -- While the number of Ohio residents aged 65 and

older will stay at about 1.5 million through the year 2010, a higher portion of

that population will shift to the "oldest old," say researchers at Miami

University.

People older than 85 will increase by 27 percent and those 95 or older

will grow by 37 percent, according to the report, "Projections of Ohio's Older

Disabled Population," prepared for the Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project.

Although a recently published study shows the rate of disabled elderly

slowing, long-term care costs for this segment of the population are still

likely to rise, say researchers at Miami University.

"Sheer numbers will likely outweigh a minor reduction in the rate of

disability," says Dr. Robert Applebaum, co-author of the report by Miami's

Scripps Gerontology Center that projects substantial growth in Ohio's 85-years

and older population.

"The flat growth of Ohio's overall older population might look like a

reason to relax funding, but we found cause for the state to plan for more care

in the oldest old age groups," says principal investigator Dr. Shahla

Mehdizadeh.

In fact, contrary to optimism that a slowed rate of disability might

stabilize Medicare, the need for long-term care financing is becoming more

urgent.

"The crisis in health care financing for older people is a matter of

social and moral values, public policy priorities, and negotiation; it is not

simply a matter of numbers or demography," says Dr. Suzanne Kunkel of

Scripps.

Since the prevalence of disability increases with age, the number of

disabled Ohioans will increase with the rise in very old Ohioans.

Moderate or severe disabilities are noted by about 55 percent of Ohioans

aged 85-89; 66 percent of those aged 90-94, and 75 percent of those over age

95.

Ohio's Medicaid expenses for nursing facilities are already rising: from

$651 million in 1985 to $1.8 billion in 1995. The cost for home health care

for the elderly has risen as dramatically.

The report was prepared to help policy-makers with population and

disability projections to better plan for the long-term care needs and costs

facing our aging society.

Even greater change lies further down the road.

Miami's researchers predict rapid growth in Ohio's older population from

2010 to 2030, when all baby boomers will be 65 or older.

"We know budgeting for the future isn't easy," says Mehdizadeh. "But in

20 years the state will need to be ready for a substantially larger number of

older people who will be coming through the system."

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