Seniors’ Top Care Needs: Mobility, Self-Care Rank High

Over one-third of seniors living in the community report having self-care or mobility needs, according to an issue brief published by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization headquartered in Menlo Park, California.

Rachel Garfield of the Kaiser Family Foundation and her co-authors used the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study to analyze rates of need for LTSS and detail the characteristics of seniors who require these services.

Overall, 46% of seniors in the community reported having any kind of LTSS need, the issue brief revealed.

In total, 36% of seniors in the community have a mobility or self-care need, and 33% of seniors in the community have household activity needs.

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With the exception of eating and toileting, which are less prevalent, different types of self-care/mobility needsdressing, bathing, getting out of bed, going outside and getting around inside—were found to be about equally as common.

Different types of household activity needs, such as help with laundry, meal preparation, medication management and paying bills, were determined to be about equally as common as well. Shopping for personal items or groceries was a more commonly reported household activity need.

Additionally, the issue brief revealed that almost 7 in 10 beneficiaries dually eligible both for Medicare and Medicaid reported an LTSS need, compared with 52% of low-income seniors without Medicaid and 36% of higher-income seniors without Medicaid.

The issue brief identified high rates of comorbid physical and mental health issues among dual-eligible beneficiaries with LTSS needs, as well as identified a need for social supports, including efforts to reduce fall risk, improve housing conditions and address social isolation.

The authors concluded that delivery system reform initiatives looking to better coordinate care across the domains of medical and LTSS and to integrate behavioral and physical health services could enable these beneficiaries’ needs to be met in a more holistic manner while potentially lowering costs and improving health outcomes.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson