Berea Lake TowersFamily ResourcesHistory of Senior Care

The History of Senior Care

The History of Senior Living & Care ImageBy the year 2030, one-fifth of the US population will be over the age of 65. While some Seniors and their families are able to maintain safe and comfortable home care, many others seek long term care and living solutions elsewhere. Care for Seniors isn’t a new concern, however. In fact, early thoughts on aging and care date back to 44 BC.

Take a look at our handy infographic, or read below for highlights of the history of Senior Care.

44 BC: Cicero writes text about aging, “On Old Age".

1025: An Arabic text, the “Canon of Medicine” is the earliest known text describing medical care for the aging and elderly.

1100’s-1700’s: Aging and the elderly are held in widely different regard, from “evil” during the Dark Ages to revered during the Age of Enlightenment.

1713: One of the earliest organizations designed specifically to care for the elderly, “Friends’ Almhouse of Philadelphia” is founded.

Mid 1800’s: Religious groups, in reaction to awful conditions in “poorhouses” and “workhouses,” open non-profit homes for Seniors, many of which still exist today.

1817: The “Indigent Widows and Single Women’s Society” is established to care for a growing population of poor and elderly women who had lost their husbands.

1853: An early guide to aging, “On the Decline of Life,” is published by Barnard Van Oren.

1862: Civil War pensions become the first major pension program in the US and cares for Union war veterans disabled in service, their widows and their dependents.

1909: Aging is first recognized as a social issue, separate from sickness, with poverty among the elderly population a specific concern.

1935: The Social Security Act is established in response to The Great Depression, which threw over half the Senior population into poverty. It is the first universal federal welfare program for the elderly.

1950: The rise of the private nursing home industry begins this year and continues with 260,000 elderly being cared for in 1954 to over 500,000 by 1965.

1960-1976: Nursing home beds increase by 302%.

1965: Medicare and Medicaid are signed into law by Lyndon Johnson.

1968: The Moss Amendments bring government regulation to the nursing home industry and prompts the rise of national nursing home chains.

1974: The first hospice in the US is founded in Connecticut.

1981: The first nationally recognized Assisted Living is founded and focused on privacy and independence for its residents. Assisted Living Communities are now home to over one million Seniors.

2011: The “Retirement Wave” begins, with the first Baby Boomers turning 65. Over the next 19 years, 79 million Baby Boomers will retire, or about 10,000 people per day.

Present Day Elder Care Trends:

  • 29 million Americans, or 9% of the population, care for someone over the age of 74.
  • “Seniors Caring for Seniors” is increasing as younger Seniors who are retired and still healthy take the time to care for older Seniors.
  • “Age in Place”: Some organizations, like Generations Healthcare, provide residents the opportunity to remain in Assisted Living Communities as they age, adapting to their ongoing needs and capabilities.
  • Now more than ever, Seniors have choices in living options, and these options include supported living at home, Independent Living, Assisted Living Communities, Skilled Nursing and Hospice Care services.

With these increased options in elder care, it can be difficult to know where to get started. Make sure to ask questions and do research first. Read our FAQ to help you start your journey.