Aging Health Care More Rehab, Geriatric Services Starting throughout Suburbs

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Byline: Louise Brass Contributing Writer

The burgeoning number of elderly people accessing assisted living facilities and needing treatment for geriatric health issues is a demographic expected to increase through 2050.

At the same time, Medicaid payments are being delayed, said Dr. Rajeev Kumar, medical director for Adventist Midwest Geriatrics. Alzheimer's disease patients are also on the increase, according to Kumar, whose practice, shared with 10 physicians, serves residents in assisted living facilities including Sunrise Assisted Living, Beacon Hill and Lexington Senior Residence, all in Lombard; Heritage Woods of Bolingbrook and Joshua tree in Joliet.

The aging population has a ripple effect reaching many aspects of the economy.

As the aging population grows, it means more jobs in the health care industry, putting an emphasis on the need for new building projects to meet medical demands, creating construction jobs.

More rehabilitation facilities are needed today and many assisted living residences are becoming rehab facilities only, Kumar said. This is creating a shortage in assisted living units and nursing home beds.

The numbers are growing. In 1950, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8.3 percent of the total U.S. population was 65 and older. By the year 2000, that number reached 12.4 percent and by 2050 the number is projected to climb to 20.6 percent.

At Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Lisle, nearly 42 percent of admitted patients use Medicare, said Clinical Nurse Specialist Sue Durkin.

According to Durkin, the general U.S. population is projected to grow 50 percent from 1995 to 2050.

"But those people 65 and older will increase at a rate of 135 percent," she said.

"We have anticipated the need of increased services for this age group. Definitely the 80-plus age group is probably the fastest growing group," Durkin said. …