Business As Usual is Failing US
“Our new Constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” This Benjamin Franklin quote appeared in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Le Roy in 1789 (according to Wikipedia), Death and taxes are in today’s headline as exploding health costs threaten our country.
Benjamin Franklin’s saying is as relevant today as it was two centuries ago. In fact, under our present pandemic, climate change, battered economy, and mental health crisis, his words are downright prescient. We continue to feel the earth shifting under our feet with all this calamity swirling in our government. This is an especially heavy time for those who have lost employment and see no real prospects on the horizon. Many older workers opt for early retirement to re-establish certainty. However, this fix has profound implications on what options lay ahead while living on a fixed income and limited savings for decades to come.
Pandemic Life of Social Distancing
The virus is visiting every part of our country. Many rural and small cities thought they had dodged the bullet but now find their infection rates skyrocketing and resources stretched thin. State and local tax revenue is not keeping up with the operating costs for essential services and painful cuts are being made. Governments are shuttering libraries, senior centers, daycare, and other programs with the hope of families and local organizations can pick up the slack. The consequence of the cutbacks will not be fully understood for years. But early signs of depression, suicides, and addiction among older and socially isolated people are tragic collateral damage.
Self-Employed Find Senior Care Fit
Keith R. Hall, CEO of the National Association of Self-Employed reports a twenty-five percent increase in membership this year. The dramatic rise in self-employment correlates with the rise in unemployment as well. For senior care, this means rethinking yesterday’s labor-intensive business model with more nimble remote monitoring and call center support. Now an enterprising young professional can ‘care’ for a number of seniors by installing and monitoring user-friendly hardware. Will Medicare Advantage programs engage these new models to reduce costs while addressing the social determinants of health? Long-distance caregivers of all generations like the price point and ‘peace of mind’ of eyes on their loved ones.
How About an Airbnb instead of an ALF?
Fixed-income seniors needing residential care but cannot afford to pay fifty thousand dollars a year for an Assisted Living Facility are now finding startups who can care at a fraction of the cost. The pandemic’s residential care death rates have seniors and families shopping for low-density options. And most Boomers want to remain in their community until death. New businesses are renting apartments or extra bedrooms at home, and fitting them with the home safety and remote monitoring to enable fixed-income seniors to remain independent with support.
Hospital at Home
Zeigler Investments released a white paper on Home Based Primary Care. The target demographic is the 85 years plus cohort who is becoming frailer yet still resist nursing home care. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Independence at Home Demonstration Program underway now is getting high praise for consumer satisfaction and cost savings. The rapid adoption of telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and now house calls are all positive developments for senior care.
Revolution not Evolution in Senior Care
Clayton Christensen will one day be quoted alongside Benjamin Franklin. He believed in disruptive innovation where new models enter the bottom of the market and eventually overtake the incumbents as the new normal. Will this be the case for senior care? Will the long-entrenched government programs of the Social Security Older American’s Act give way to innovation that responds to the local community and individual needs? In the future, I want to write about the pandemic era as bigger than death and taxes.