The Olympian: Innovation Needed to Address Growing Senior Population

Innovative solutions are needed for the growing senior population, and this includes state-funded programs that help keep individuals in their homes or communities and out of nursing homes, reports The Olympian.

Republicans and Democrats alike have seen the wisdom of innovative programs that began to take shape in this state about 15 years ago, triggering what elder care advocates call a “quiet reform” in long-term care for seniors.

It’s quiet because many people have no idea how much has been accomplished in this state by the elder care advocates and their allies in the state Legislature. Statistics help to tell the story. Here are some examples.


In 1992, the nursing home case load in the state stood at 17,000. Under the policies in place 20 years ago, the caseload today would be close to 27,000.

Instead, a number of innovative senior care programs were instituted that extend the ability of seniors to live independently with support from caregivers who provide care in home and community-based settings.

Today, the nursing home population is 10,800, despite a near doubling of the population of seniors 85 years of age and older in Washington state.


This move away from nursing home care has saved Washington state some $3.34 billion since 1996, according to its Office of Financial Management. And according to Washington Aging and Disability Services Administration report, the state can serve 2.3 times more consumers per dollar in home- or community-based settings compared to nursing home settings, says The Olympian.

However, nursing homes are still a critical component of the elder care continuum, the article continues, clarifying that it’s important to have alternative forms of care for seniors who aren’t experiencing debilitating illnesses or chronic diseases.

Read the full article here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace