New Study: Almost Half of Seniors Need Help


Howard Gleckman, of the Urban Institute, sheds some light on a new study from the University of Michigan and the Institute. That study indicates that almost half of all seniors need some help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs and Instrumental ADLs). That number is much higher than previous studies had indicated, but not at all surprising to those of us at Support For Home In-Home Care or others in the elder care industry.

One of the points Gleckman makes is that,

Among those living in places other than nursing homes, about one-third receive paid assistance (including help from staff) and about one-third get assistance from both paid staff and family and friends. About 15 percent of those living in supportive care settings hire private duty aides to provide additional assistance.

One of the important data points from the study is just how much help many seniors actually need:

 Those getting help with household activities such as cooking and cleaning say family and friends provide an average of about 85 hours- a-month of assistance (about 21 hours-a-week). But those getting help with 3 or more personal care or mobility needs such as bathing or walking say family and friends give more than 250 hours of assistance. That’s more than 60 hours per week.

As the number of hours of need – and the level of personal care involved – increases, the toll on family and friends becomes very great. At some critical point, the family and friends need to reach out, for their own sakes and the sake of the care recipient, for professional help. If the senior is living at home, talking to a member of the Home Care Association of America is the best bet.

One more critical data point is, again, no surprise to us, but will be to most folks:

Nearly one in six of all older adults reported at least one “adverse consequence” when a care need was not met.  And among those who said they needed assistance, it was nearly one-third. The most common effects: Wet or soiled clothes, being unable to go places, or making mistakes taking medications.

I have talked in a number of prior articles about how serious medication non-compliance is. The consequences, both in terms of health and healthcare costs, is enormous. Likewise, the issues of pressure ulcers and other skin breakdowns from improper hygiene is very serious.

It is hard to shine too bright a light on the needs of our seniors. This study adds some welcome wattage to the situation.

Best wishes. Bert

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