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New Resource Available For Nursing Home Data

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Press Release Date: June 28, 1999

John M. Eisenberg, M.D., administrator of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), released a new chartbook presenting characteristics of nursing home facilities, special care units, and their residents. The chartbook was released at the annual meeting of the Association for Health Services Research in Chicago. Nursing Home Trends, 1987 and 1996, features findings from AHCPR's 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey Institutional Population Component. This is the third chartbook released from MEPS data. The Children's Health, 1996, chartbook was released in March 1998, and Racial and Ethnic Differences in Health, 1996, was released in February.

"With the growth in the number of Americans over 75, we need to understand the needs of the frail elderly and what long term care options may help them," said Dr. Eisenberg. "This chartbook provides important data about the nursing home industry which will contribute to more informed discussions and decisionmaking about Long-term care needs in the future."

Using a question and answer style along with charts and graphs, the chartbook provides information about nursing homes and their residents in 1996 and compares it with information about the nursing home market in 1987. Significant findings include:

  • Nursing homes in 1996 served an older population than they served in 1987. From 1987 to 1996, the proportion of nursing home residents who were 85 and over rose from 49 percent to 56 percent for women and from 29 percent to 33 percent for men.
  • The number of nursing homes and the number of nursing home beds both increased almost 20 percent from 1987 to 1996, from 14,050 homes with 1.48 million beds in 1987 to 16,840 homes and 1.76 million beds in 1996.
  • Residents were more functionally disabled in 1996 than in 1987. The number of nursing home residents who needed help with three or more activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, transferring, feeding, and toileting) increased from 72 percent in 1987 to 83 percent in 1996.
  • Male residents were more likely to be married when entering a nursing home in 1996 than in 1987, from 24.8 percent in 1987 to 34.3 percent in 1996. There was very little change in the marital status of female residents during that time. In both years, almost three-fourths of women, but only one-third of men, were widowed at the time of the survey.
  • In 1996 the most common type of special care unit was for treatment of Alzheimer's and related dementias. Most Alzheimer units are relatively new; only 10 percent have been operating for more than 10 years. No data on 1987 special care units is available.
  • Between 1987 and 1996, there was a trend away from traditional nursing homes toward nursing homes that included assisted or independent living beds in addition to nursing home beds. The proportion of non-nursing beds rose from 6.9 percent in 1987 to 11.3 percent in 1996.

Nursing Home Trends, 1987 and 1996, (Publication Number 99-0032) is available through the AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse by calling 800-358-9295, or writing to P.O. Box 8547, Silver Spring, Md., 20907. It also is available through AHCPR's MEPS Web site at

AHCPR also released tables of data from the Insurance Component of MEPS, which provide national information on health insurance costs and characteristics in 1996 and state-by-state breakdowns for the 40 most populous states. The tables include estimates of health insurance premiums, contributions, enrollments, offerings, take-up rates, and self-insured rates, and are based on data collected from a nationally representative sample of private-sector employers. Currently, the tables are available only through AHCPR's MEPS Web site at Later this summer, AHCPR will release the tables on CD-ROM. To order copies of the CD-ROM (Pub. No. 99-DP07), call the AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse at 800-358-9295.

For additional information, contact AHCPR Public Affairs at (301) 427-1364; Karen Carp, (301) 427-1858,; Karen Migdail, (301) 427-1855 ,

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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