The United States is experiencing a significant demographic shift as over 10,000 people enter the senior age bracket daily, with the oldest Baby Boomers turning 77 this year. Advances in modern medicine have led to Americans living longer than ever, with projections suggesting that by 2040, more than 14 million Americans will be aged 85 or older, compared to the current 6.7 million.
This growing aging population has led to an increased demand for reliable information on elder care. A 2022 report from the Administration on Aging revealed that 17% of the population (one in six Americans) was 65 or older in 2020. As caregivers seek the best care for their loved ones, finding trustworthy data sources driven by people’s needs rather than profit has become increasingly challenging.
The rising demand for quality care has also driven up costs, while the availability of beds struggles to keep up. Consequently, care quality in some facilities has declined, with instances of understaffing, unsanitary conditions, and resident abuse. According to Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data, among the people with the highest medical expenses in 2020, 40.2% of them were aged 65 or older.
Patients needing post-acute care (PAC) after illness or hospitalization are among the most vulnerable in the system. For many of them, choosing where to go next makes a tremendous difference in their outcome and overall quality of life. It could mean the difference between a full recovery, cycling through various healthcare facilities, or living out their lives in a nursing home.
Families often make decisions based on biased recommendations, inadvertently placing their loved ones in subpar facilities. The reality is that many facilities fail to take basic safety precautions, yet they continue to operate at full capacity. As the aging population grows, addressing these challenges in elder care becomes a pressing concern for families and policymakers alike. Patients who receive lower-quality care from providers are at a greater risk of health complications, re-hospitalizations, and further health decline, which can further increase healthcare costs.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal regulator for nursing homes, restricted all visitation to facilities, except in the case of end-of-life situations. This, along with other policies, such as barring ombudspersons – independent monitors – from visiting facilities to report on conditions and suspending all state inspections other than infection control, further complicated the public’s ability to make informed decisions about where to place patients for care.
Today, much of the elderly population receives assistance from unpaid caregivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that according to the 2015-2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 1 in 5 adults over 18 provided assistance or care to someone living with dementia. While half of them assisted with personal care tasks like bathing, 80% of them took care of basic household management tasks, including cleaning or finances. The value of this unpaid care was estimated to be $257 billion in 2020.
Families faced with the difficult choice of sending their loved ones to a facility, whether for short-term rehabilitation or long-term care, deal with high stress. While they worry about how to pay for the care, they want to ensure their loved one receives the best possible care, regardless of cost.
But without clear information about what’s going on behind the scenes in any given facility, even if they manage to cover the expense, they have to wonder if their family members receive adequate care. This is a problem that the founders of Elder Guide want to solve.
Elder Guide takes a data-driven approach to overcome industry flaws
In an increasingly digital world, many popular online platforms focus on affiliate commissions rather than genuinely connecting users with facilities that suit their needs. These websites often distribute consumers’ contact information to numerous local facilities, earning a commission for each booking made.
As a result, consumers find themselves inundated with emails and phone calls from various facilities attempting to book tours, even if they may not fit their specific requirements. This approach wastes time and effort and adds unnecessary stress to the decision-making process.
Industry experts argue that a data-driven model would better serve users by recommending facilities based on their unique needs. For example, if a person requires a facility specializing in dementia care, they should be able to filter recommendations to specifically identify establishments capable of providing high-quality care to dementia patients. This targeted approach ensures consumers are connected with suitable options, streamlining the search process and enhancing the overall user experience.
“Our goal is to simplify the search process for consumers. We use simple search filter features on ElderGuide.com that most internet users will be accustomed to, making it possible to narrow down options in seconds based on their actual needs or the needs of their loved one,” says co-founder Matt Hope.
Elder Guide has emerged to challenge the status quo within the elder care industry. Primarily aimed at consumers, this platform also proves valuable for journalists and industry professionals seeking reliable data on nursing homes, assisted living, and senior living facilities.
Elder Guide’s mission is to prioritize people over profit, offering a transparent source of information to empower individuals to make informed decisions about available care options and industry developments. The company has a secondary mission as well, which is to provide this information to journalists so they can accurately report on the industry and give their audience the kind of actionable information they need.
Hope says, “Government inspection reports and other data on nursing home communities is often not easy to access or understand for consumers and even journalists researching the topic. Our goal is to present the most important data points in a completely transparent manner so that the public can be fully informed on the reality of the industry.”
Elder Guide provides details on data sources and methodology, enabling users to understand the origins of the information and how conclusions are drawn. The aim is to disrupt the elder care industry by putting the needs of the people at the forefront.
The data is obtained from a wide variety of government and industry sources, as well as independent inspectors, and by compiling and presenting all of this data, a more robust and complete assessment can be made. This approach eliminates the advantages giant companies have with their massive marketing departments and budgets, and places the power in the data itself.
With over 1 billion data points in use, Elder Guide aims to combat misinformation and bias in the industry by equipping people with accurate information to make confident care decisions. The platform identifies top-rated facilities nationwide and highlights poorly-rated ones that require improvements.
This provides comprehensive metrics for consumers, and displays how well facilities manage their businesses, residents, and relationships with families, which keeps elder care facilities accountable, and empowers families to make the best possible decisions for the needs of their aging loved ones.
And this is exactly what Elder Guide is working to achieve.