Home Family Practice Greater Numbers of U.S. Seniors Are Being Cared for at Home

Greater Numbers of U.S. Seniors Are Being Cared for at Home

Sharpest increase in home care observed among older Americans with milder disabilities

WEDNESDAY, July 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) — More older Americans with chronic health problems are opting to live at home, relying on help from family, paid caregivers, or friends, according to a research letter published in the July 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Claire K. Ankuda, M.D., M.P.H., and Deborah A. Levine, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, collected data on 5,198 individuals 55 and older who took part in the Health and Retirement Study by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. All had one or more disabling conditions.

In 2012, half of seniors (49.8 percent) with a disability had some type of home health care, an increase from 42.1 percent in 1998, the researchers found. If rates from this Michigan study are representative of the nation as a whole, more than 3.1 million more American seniors had home help in 2012 than in 1998, Ankuda told HealthDay. The sharpest increase in home care was observed among seniors with milder disabilities. The researchers also found that paid caregiving accounted for the largest increase in home health utilization, although more seniors also reported relying on spouses and adult children. The percentage using friends for care remained stable.

Individuals with more than a high school education and above-average net worth accounted for most of the increase in use of paid home health care aides, the researchers found. This suggests a growing disparity in paid care for disabled seniors. It might also indicate a trend to aging at home, even among those who might be able to afford a nursing home, Ankuda said.

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