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Elderly housing with supportive social services can reduce hospital use, study says

Supportive social services as psychological assessments, physical activity and socialization programs can reduce hospitalization for older adults.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Investing in affordable housing that offers supportive social services to senior citizens on Medicare has the potential to reduce hospital admissions -- not to mention the amount of time needed for inpatient hospital care by better managing chronic health conditions, according to a Rutgers study.


While prior research has shown that housing conditions affect health outcomes of the elderly, there is limited information about the effect support services have on the well-being of seniors and the costly hospital services for Medicare beneficiaries.

Such support services include physical and psychological assessments; counseling and advocacy; health education; wellness and physical activity; and socialization programs.

Researchers examined whether a program provided to elderly Medicare beneficiaries through a nonprofit, community-based group in Queens, New York, would reduce hospital use, including hospital discharges for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions that, if managed well, should not require admission to a hospital.

The findings show that discharge rates and length of hospital stays were lower in Medicare beneficiaries who lived in the housing environment that offered supportive social services, as compared to seniors in the same neighborhood living without these amenities. 

This suggests that continued investment in housing with supportive social services can reduce costly hospital stays and decrease spending for vulnerable older adults.


In September, America's Health Insurance Plans released a report that looked at how housing could impact healthcare costs, but from a different angle, specifically examining housing for the homeless.

Hospital admissions and emergency room visits are three to four times higher for people who are homeless, according to AHIP, citing a study by the American Public Health Association. Strategies include combining housing assistance with community-based support and on-site healthcare.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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