Respite Care Needed to Limit Burdens on Family Caregivers

While that vast majority of older Americans want to remain in their homes through retirement, aging in place often requires some help—and the first choice for a caregiver is often an adult child, according to research from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

More than 50% of adults 85 and older will have at least one limitation related to instrumental activities of daily living (ADLs), requiring some form of help, the Center found. As more Americans head into the golden years, more care will be needed.

While not all adult children will end up needing to provide care for their elderly parents, those that do will have a high commitment, devoting an average of 77 hours per month, according to the research report, “How Much Long-Term Care Do Adult Children Provide?”

The burdens to family members is roughly the equivalent of providing two weeks of full-time work each month to care for aging parents, and caregiving can impact children’s careers and financial well-being, as well as their physical and mental health, the report found. As such, the country should put more supports and resources in place to ease the difficulties of aging on families, the research urges.

“Policymakers and the private sector must confront this prospect, with its attendant burdens on the long-term care sector and insurers of long-term care—the largest of which by far is an already overburdened Medicaid system,” the report concludes.

Home health industry groups agree.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) signed on to a letter to Congress that urges for respite and other family support programs that provide a safety net for family caregivers, the association announced in early June. NAHC, along with other health care groups, requested $5 million for a respite care program and $158 million for a family caregiver support program. Providing these resources can potentially enable seniors to age in place longer without retreating to facility-based care.

“Respite can save dollars by helping to avoid or delay out-of-home placements or hospitalizations,” NAHC stated in an announcement.

Seniors can lessen the burden on family members by utilizing personal care benefits through Medicaid or hiring private duty home care, but the informal family caregivers are still likely to shoulder most of the care in the coming years.

“As baby boomers enter their 80s, a large increase in the demand for long-term care is likely, with a commensurate rise in the reliance on care from their children,” the report reads.

Written by Amy Baxter

Amy Baxter on EmailAmy Baxter on Twitter
Amy Baxter
Assistant Editor at Home Health Care News
When not writing about all things home health, Amy fulfills her lifelong dream of becoming a pirate by sailing in regattas and enjoying rum. Fun fact: she sailed 333 miles across Lake Michigan in the Chicago Yacht Club "Race to Mackinac."