Half Of Older Americans Utilize Home Care at End of Life

More than 50% of Americans 65 and older receive in-home health care from a medically trained person prior to death, according to a recently released Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) study.

The data comes from the Health and Retirement Study, a large national survey. Investigators looked at recurring and non-recurring health care costs for people involved in the study who died, compared with those who did not. 

“Like other non-recurring care items, usage of home health care was also much higher for those who died compared to surviving members within each age group,” says Dr. Sudipto Banerjee, with EBRI, in a statement.


But for the deceased, usage of home healthcare across the three age groups evaluated in the study hardly varied, measuring 51.7%, 50.1% and 52.2% for those 65-74, 75-84 and 85 and older, respectively, data show. Among the surviving panel members, the respective utilization rates were 8.3%, 13.2% and 26.1%.

“This shows that irrespective of age, the majority of retirees needed home health care prior to their death,” Banerjee says. 

Among people age 85 and older, about three-quarters have difficulties with daily activities, including housework or getting around the home, according to a recent Merrill Lynch retirement study conducted in partnership with Age Wave. That study also found that the vast majority of retirees 50 and older say their top preference for receiving long-term care is in their own home, driving demand for these services.


Usage and expenses of non-recurring health care services go up with age, the EBRI study found.

“Nursing-home stays in particular can be very expensive,” Banerjee says. “For people ages 85 and above, the average and the 90th percentile of nursing-home expenses were $24,185 and $66,600 respectively during a two year period.”

Access the EBRI study here.

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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