Forbes: Home Care Desirable but Presents Unknowns

Many Americans are hoping, or are counting on, their ability to age while remaining in their own homes. Largely, this is made possible through the help of in-home caregivers, whether professional, paid for by government programs, or untrained family members. 

But while many are hopeful of this option, there are many, many unknowns writes Forbes columnist Howard Gleckman, when it comes to the caregiving resources that are available. 

Much information about family caregivers, the vast majority of caregivers who provide care to aging loved ones at home, is missing, Gleckman points out in his article. The lack of skills, metrics and data leaves questions about the quality of care most people can access when they age in place. 


“Much is undoubtedly delivered with great love and compassion. But, sadly, it is also provided by family members who have no caregiving skills,” Gleckman writes. “For instance, they often don’t know how to safely lift a frail relative out of bed, or how to help her bathe….And we nothing about how many people fall because a family member can’t manage that transfer.”

The knowns are “sketchy,” Gleckman says, even when it comes to paid home care aides, with additional uncertainty presented by the fact that many home care agencies are private pay, and their services and results are not tracked by Medicare and Medicaid. 

“There is also no quality information about the huge “grey market” of home health aides—the tens of thousands of independent contractors who get jobs by word of mouth, by posting a 3×5 card on a supermarket bulletin board, or through an ad on Cragislist,” he writes. “Some of these aides are terrific. Some are incompetent or worse. The problem is: We don’t know.”


View the Forbes column.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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