By Thomas Cornwell: For More Info, Go Here…
The numbers get our attention: More than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, with the 80-and-older segment growing the fastest and more likely to be homebound or home-limited; the number of people ages 65 and older will more than double between 2010 and 2050, causing the number of homebound and home-limited patients to rise even higher; and only about 12 percent of the nation’s two million home-limited patients currently receive home-based primary care.
But when you look behind the numbers at the patient stories, home-based primary care goes from being a compelling concept to a “no brainer.”
Like the 50-year-old man who suffered a brain injury from a motor vehicle accident. He’s bedridden and completely dependent on his 81-year-old mother and other caregivers for support. Without home-based primary care, his only access to primary health care would be via an ambulance to the hospital.
Or the 38-year-old woman with congenital cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. She’s nonverbal, uses a feeding tube, and has a history of gastrointestinal bleeding. Like many homebound patients, she’s cared for around the clock, mainly by her family, oftentimes by a father who works nights so he can take care of her during the day. Again, without home-based primary care, her only access to health care would be through the emergency department, which poses additional burdens for her caregivers.
Or the 78-year-old woman in an assisted living facility, who has a history of a stroke that resulted in tremors and an inability to verbalize her needs. She is wheelchair-bound and has emphysema. Although she has more access to onsite health care than some patients, she still needs ongoing primary care.
And, finally, there was the 82-year-old woman, who had previously been hospitalized 13 times for conditions such as heart failure and pneumonia, with multiple rehabilitation stays following these hospitalizations. She was reliant on her 86-year-old husband as the primary caregiver and wanted to avoid being hospitalized again. With home-based primary care in place, she only required one more hospitalization over the course of eight months and, in the end, was able to pass away at home, something she also wanted, after transitioning to hospice care.
These are just a handful of the stories home-based primary care providers are privileged to see unfold as part of our work. The benefits of home-based primary care are myriad, but obstacles must be addressed to ensure the model is available to all patients who could benefit from it.