Challenges for Detroit’s “New Elderly”

Meet some of Detroit’s fast growing population, the “New Elderly”, people who are 50-59 years old but more like 60-74 in terms of their health. Based on a 3-year study of illness and death rates in Detroit and surrounding communities by the Detroit Area Agency on Aging, the report shows that in addition to accelerated aging, the elderly in Detroit die at a rate 131%  higher than their peers around Michigan.

This poses an important question:  Who will care for Detroit’s “New Elderly?”  Detroit once had about 50 nursing homes but now only has 20.  Thirteen have been lost in just the past ten years.  There has not been a new nursing home built since the 1960’s. The homes that still stand need help to stay open amid the rising costs.  Many need to make the necessary improvements and repairs to be eligible for federal Medicare dollars.

For the aging in Detroit without insurance or access to nursing facilities, their homes will be become a prison without proper equipment such as ramps and wheelchairs, or a trained staff to help care for them.  According to the report, Detroit loses out on 120 million in Medicare dollars that they could potentially charge, but do not charge because they do not have Medicare certification. Many of the facilities are just comfortable with Medicaid (state) reimbursements.  Some of the information from this post was taken from a recent article by Rochelle Riley at the Detroit Free Press.