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OLDER DISABLED POPULATION INCREASING IN OHIO
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
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
In fact, contrary to optimism that a slowed rate of disability might
stabilize Medicare, the need for long-term care financing is becoming more
"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
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
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."