Home care, assisted living upstage the nursing home

A trend seems to be growing. More seniors are leaving nursing homes in favor of other types of care, including home care and assisted living facilities.

New York, like many other states, has applied for a federal waiver to allow up to 5,000 elderly and disabled nursing home patients on Medicaid to get that care elsewhere. Mary Kahn, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services, says too often elderly patients sent to nursing homes for short-term treatment wind up staying there much longer. "Also, hospitals tend to discharge patients to nursing homes rather than look for more appropriate alternative care options that might be in short supply."

With the federal waiver system, social workers and nursing home administrators try to identify those seniors and disabled patients who can thrive in assisted living centers or at home with aides.