How Wyoming's aging population impacts the state financially

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(MGN image)(WLUC)
Published: Dec. 20, 2018 at 9:08 AM CST
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In the latest edition of Across The States: A Profile of Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS), research trends suggest that by 2055 Wyoming’s population of those age 85 and over will grow by 227 percent, or 20 percent more than the national average.

The number of Wyomingites under the age of 65 will drop 2 percent from 2015

The Wyoming Department of Administration and Information Economic Analysis Division pointed out in June of 2018 that what it terms the elderly population” (age 65 and over) in the state grew 3.7 percent between July 2016 and July 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The figure indicates that the aging of Wyoming’s population has picked up speed, and the pace was the fastest in the country.

The state’s lower percentage of state residents under the age of 65 means fewer adults available to provide informal, unpaid caregiving to the older population in the future. In Wyoming, there are an estimated 66,200 family caregivers performing an estimated $817 million in uncompensated care per year.

Presently, the Caregiver Support Ratio - the number of state residents age 45-64 per residents age 80 and over in Wyoming is 7.6, which is 10th best in the nation. By the year 2050, it is projected to drop to just 2.8.

Currently, the State of Wyoming pays $130 million per year on long-term care for its residents. That number could increase between $184-312 million by 2030, according to the Department of Health.

Home and Community-Based Services are performed by private companies and include tasks such as bathing, doing chores around the house, home health aides, congregate meals, transportation to appointments, and other work that helps seniors or those with disabilities stay in the home as they age instead of being institutionalized. Home and Community-Based Services are paid through federal and state programs and tend to cost much less than nursing homes, which can be paid for by the state through the Medicaid Program.

According to AARP’s “Across the States” report, private nursing home care in Wyoming costs an average of $96,725 per year for a private room, or just short of $85,000 a year for a shared room in a private facility. Assisted Living in Wyoming costs an average of $40,000 a year, while a home health aide (at an average of 30 hours per week) costs $42,120 per year.

One area in which Wyoming ranks exceptionally high was the number of those in the state who receive congregate meals and home delivered meals. Currently, Wyoming ranks tops in the nation per 1,000 people age 65 and over with a 195 of every 1,000 residents age 65 and over enjoying congregate meals. The national average is just 32 out of 1,000 residents age 65 and over. Wyoming ranks second in the nation per 1,000 residents age 65 and over who receive home delivered meals with 55 for every 1,000 residents age 65 and over. The national average is 17.

However, while there are many people taking part in these congregate meals, the federal and state governments only reimburse senior centers about $3 per meal, which also places a financial burden on local centers and communities for funding.

For more information on the aging population check out the interview from the morning show.