Friday, April 22nd, 2011 1:12 am | by San Diego Home Caregivers
A new study conducted by a team of experts on caregiving and aging shows that professional, in-home, non-medical care for seniors improves the quality and quantity of care they receive and enhances quality of life for both seniors and their family members.
The “Value of Caregiving at Home,” a research project commissioned for the Home Instead Senior Care® network, suggests that home care plays a vital role in a continuum that otherwise consists of more “formal” clinical care, especially among those who are older or need more-intensive care. Seniors getting paid home care typically receive much more care than those who do not, some 87.9 hours per week versus just 35 hours.
Those seniors using home care in this study also reported having fewer physician visits compared with those not using home care: the difference was about 25 percent, comparing 12.5 visits per year to16.6 visits. Overall, family caregivers who participated in the study gave the quality of care received by their seniors a higher ranking when paid care was included.
The benefit to family caregivers was evident as well. The study showed that 71 percent of family caregivers using home care were employed, 51 percent full-time. Caregivers using home care did 25 percent better in maintaining their prior income levels when changing jobs to accommodate caregiving responsibilities than did those without home care.
The findings are significant, given that the senior population is aging in record numbers, according to Paul Hogan, co-founder and chairman of the Home Instead Senior Care network. By 2030, some 72 million Americans will be age 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“This study confirms what our industry consistently sees – that in-home care has a major, positive impact for seniors and their family caregivers,” Hogan said. “As many in our field can testify, non-medical home care, which provides for such services as companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping and medication reminders, is vital to keeping many older adults at home. The study showed that professional, in-home, non-medical care for seniors improved the quality and quantity of care they received and enhanced quality of life for both seniors and their family members. The challenge now is to ensure that home care is viewed as a bona fide part of the care continuum for seniors.”
According to the research, 75 percent of the recipients of home care were at least 80 years of age. The care recipients were often sicker as well with 61 percent reporting mobility problems, 29 percent with Alzheimer’s disease, 43 percent with dementia and 22 percent with the after-effects of stroke. Nearly half (48 percent) were dealing with frailty, defined by the American Geriatrics Society as a condition characterized by three or more conditions such as muscle weakness, slow walking speed, exhaustion, low physical-activity levels or unintentional weight loss.
“This study clearly demonstrates the importance and value of home care to a large number of older persons and theirfamily caregivers,” said Dr. Peter Boling, a geriatrician at Virginia Commonwealth University and lead advisor for the study. “It should inform policy makers looking to improve the quality and reduce the cost of care for older Americans, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study builds on other research that shows seniors prefer to “age in place” at home and that paid, in-home, non-medical care saves as much as $25 billion per year in the U.S., primarily in high hospital payroll costs.
This Home Instead Senior Care-commissioned research project—entitled the “Value of Caregiving at Home” study—examined the perceptions and experiences of U.S. caregivers for seniors by conducting a survey among adults (aged 18 and older) who were providing and/or arranging care for an older adult (aged 65 or older). Six-hundred and ninety-seven caregivers with paid in-home non-medical care completed surveys, along with 934 caregivers who were not using paid in-home non-medical care—yielding a total of 1,631 study respondents.