Caregiver & Elder Care News
Nearly Half of Senior Citizens Need Some Help with Care Needs
51% reported no difficulty in previous month, 29%
reported receiving help taking care of themselves, their households or
8, 2014 - Nearly half of the senior citizens in the U.S. – 18 million
people - have difficulty with daily activities or get help in managing
them, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Michigan and the
Urban Institute analyzed data from a national sample of older adults
drawn from Medicare enrollment files. In all, 8,245 people were included
in the 2011 the National Health and Aging Trends Study. The analysis is
published in the current (September 2014) issue of the Milbank
"Although 51 percent reported having no difficulty
in the previous month, 29 percent reported receiving help with taking
care of themselves or their households or getting around," said U-M
researcher Vicki Freedman, co-author of the report with the Urban
Institute's Brenda Spillman.
"And another 20 percent said they had difficulty
carrying out these activities on their own."
Among those receiving help, one in four lived in
either a supportive care setting (15 percent) or a nursing home (10
Severe disability is more common among those with
low incomes, the researchers found. A disproportionate share of
low-income persons received assistance with three or more self-care or
mobility activities in settings other than nursing homes.
Nearly all older adults had at least one potential
informal care network member – family or household member, or close
friend – and the average network size was four people.
Older adults who lived in the community reported
receiving an average of 164 hours of care a month from informal
caregivers – more than five hours a day, on average. Older adults living
in supportive care settings reported nearly 50 hours of informal care
About 70 percent of those getting help received
assistance from family, friends, and other unpaid caregivers, while
about 30 percent received paid care.
Unmet needs, especially among those receiving paid
assistance, were sizable, according to the authors. "Among the 18
million who had difficulty or received help, 30 percent had an adverse
consequence in the last month related to unmet need," said Spillman.
"Among community residents with a paid caregiver, the figure was nearly
Given these substantial care needs, especially
among those with few economic resources, the authors conclude that
policies to improve long-term care services and supports, and reduce
unmet needs could benefit both older adults and those who care for them.
The research was funded by the Department of Health
and Human Services and the National Institute on Aging.
University of Michigan