Home Instead Senior Care, a national network of locally-owned, in-home, non-medical care providers, recently commissioned a study gauging the role home care services play in the overall continuum of long-term senior care. The study, entitled "The Value of Caregiving at Home," enlisted a panel of unbiased advisors, including medical professionals, members of academia, researchers and senior care experts to ensure the integrity of the research and methodology.
The research finds that those receiving home senior care report less frequent physician visits, home care recipients average more than twice as many hours of care per week than those not paying for care, and caregivers provide higher ratings for the quality of care received when paid in-home care services are part of a loved one's care.
Prior research shows that non-medical home care reduces medical costs by about $25 billion in the U.S. each year, primarily by reducing the number of hospital visits. It's not clear whether that figure calculates the medical costs saved by caregivers, but Home Instead's study indicates that caregivers report better health when a loved one is receiving paid home care, likely due to decreased responsibilities and stress, allowing caregivers to pay more attention to their own health needs.
Specifically, caregivers of loved ones with dementia report fewer hospital visits when paid home care is involved--18 percent report visiting the hospital as an outpatient wtihin the last year among those whose loved ones were receiving home care, compared to 40 percent when home care services were not involved.
CaregiverStress.com reports that 83 percent of caregivers say the task is "very demanding," and 77 percent describe their loved one's care needs as "overwhelming." Home care services support not only the patient, but family caregivers as well by alleviating some of the pressure and providing an additional support system, and it's an alternative for families who aren't yet ready to place their loved ones in assisted living or nursing homes.
Home care can also enable family caregivers to continue working, something that many give up (either by choice or lack of choice) to care for their loved ones. This is often the case when adult children are providing care for elderly parents and must continue to work to provide for their own families. Seventy-one percent of family caregivers utilizing home care services are employed, and 51 percent maintain part-time employment.
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