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According to a 2017 study, a lack of social interaction among older adults is associated with an estimated $6.7 billion in Medicare spending annually. *

 

Mental Health Concerns

  • Twenty percent of people over 55 suffer from a mental disorder, and two-thirds of nursing home residents exhibit mental and behavioral problems. Yet, less than 3 percent of older adults report seeing a mental health professional for their problems.1

  • Older Americans underutilize mental health services because of inadequate funding for mental health services; lack of collaboration and coordination among primary care, mental health and aging service providers; access barriers; stigma surrounding mental illness and treatment; denial of problems; and lack of trained professionals in the provision of geriatric mental health services.1

  • Fear, distress, anger, stress, social support and relaxation have been shown to influence immune and cardiac functions, susceptibility to infection, pain, asthma and recovery from surgery.2

  • As many as 20 percent of older adults and up to 37 percent of nursing home residents suffer from depression, a condition that may lead to suicide.1

  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety in older Americans are overlooked and untreated because they often coincide with other medical illnesses or life events that commonly occur as people age (e.g., loss of loved ones).3

Chronic Illnesses

  • Data show that approximately 70 percent of all primary care visits were driven by psychological factors (e.g., panic, generalized anxiety, major depression, somatization, stress, adjustment disorders). It has also been found that distressed patients utilize health care at a rate of two to three times higher than non-distressed patients (APA Public Policy Office, 2002).

  • Behavior including such habits as poor diet, inactivity, alcohol and tobacco contribute to the onset of chronic illnesses while other behaviors such as medication compliance, a controlled diet and exercise program often assist in the treatment and recovery (or remission) chronic illnesses.2

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging. (2001). Older adults and mental health: Issues and opportunities. Washington, DC: Author.

  2. Speer & Schneider. (2003). Mental health needs of older adults and primary care: Opportunities for interdisciplinary geriatric team practice. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(1).

  3. National Institute of Mental Health Fact Sheet. (1999).

An Innovative Solution

The national statistics are alarming for both federal and private carriers. Traditional treatment conventions are focused on particular outcomes but discount the fundamental element that elder companionship plays in averting behavioral health claims and exacerbating co-morbid conditions. While little quantitative analysis has been done, early indicators tell us that social isolation is a clear risk factor for illness and is a key social determinate of claim activity. A study conducted by AARP, Stanford University and Harvard University, suggests that an estimated $1608 additional spending per year occurs for socially isolated individuals. This additional spending is compared below to additional monthly spending for various chronic health conditions. ​

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The CARES program incorporates daily well-being checkups and medication reminders to ensure compliance with medical recommendations and family directives. By interacting on a daily basis we are able to provide early intervention and avert acute claims activity by defusing problems in a sub acute setting. As problems occasionally increase in severity clients are patched in to licensed mental health professionals. Our team of licensed clinical professionals are conversant in eldercare issues and have extensive eldercare resources for ready access. We are able to diffuse potential crisis situations and stabilize clients without the need for hospital emergency room triage.

When handled properly, the fundamental needs of these elderly consumers are met without the activation of health insurance as a coping mechanism.