Study Finds 18 Million Americans Need Home Care

Approximately 18 million adults age 65 and older in the U.S. require some assistance with activities of daily living, however, but as several recent studies continue to show, the number of available caregivers needed to accommodate this demand will be in short supply.

Nearly one-half of older adults—or 18 million people—had difficulty or received help with activities of daily living within a single month, according to a report from University of Michigan researchers based on 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study of more than 8,000 Medicare enrollees.

Of these individuals, nearly three million received assistance with three or more self-care or mobility activities in settings other than nursing homes.


Nearly all older adults in settings other than nursing homes had at least one informal care network member, which the study defined as a family member or close friend.

Costs largely played a significant impact for these individuals, with about 3 in 10 receiving paid care and a disproportionate share of persons having low incomes.

Of those who had difficulty or received help in settings other than nursing homes, 32% had an adverse consequence in the last month related to an unmet need, whereas for community residents with a paid caregiver, the figure was nearly 60%. 


“The older population—especially those with few economic resources—has substantial late-life care needs,” concludes the study’s authors. “Policies that improve long-term services and supports and reduce unmet need could benefit both older adults and those who care for them.”

View an abstract of the study.

Written by Jason Oliva