Why Respite Care Remains Important Part of Home Care Agencies’ Service Mix

About one in five American adults currently assists an older family member in some way, shape or form, often by completing taxing household chores or contributing hundreds of dollars each month in financial support, a new survey has found. The findings reaffirm the value of respite care, a major selling point for many home care agencies.

Survey findings come from an Ipsos poll conducted in October 2018 on behalf of RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets LLC. More than 2,000 Americans 35 and older participated in the survey.

Overall, 17% of survey participants reported regularly helping aging relatives with chores, cooking, cleaning or traveling to appointments, while roughly 5% said they provided some manner of housing support.

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About 5% of survey participants claimed to offer financial support for an older relative, with the average monthly contribution being $403. Nearly one in four participants reported contributing between $500 and $999 in financial support on a monthly basis.

“As lifespans increase, and as the cost of health care reaches new heights, many adults are shouldering the responsibility of ongoing support for their family members,” Angie O’Leary, head of wealth planning at RBC Wealth Management – U.S., said in a statement. “It’s important for individuals to have a financial plan in place so they can help care for their relatives, while also preparing for their own financial future.”

In 2015, an estimated 43.5 million adults in the U.S. had provided care for an adult or child in the past 12 months, according to an AARP study. That figure is on track to skyrocket within the next few years, as upward of 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day.

Several home care agencies have made respite care a key part of their services lines, with some even teaming up with national home-based care organizations in order to advocate on behalf of respite care on Capitol Hill.

As new statistics on the role of informal caregivers continue to arise, it’s not surprising that large, national insurers have also started to look into respite care as a way to reduce costs and prevent negative health outcomes among members.

Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. (NYSE: ANTM) announced in October, for example, that it was expanding 2019 Medicare Advantage (MA) offerings across many of its affiliated health plans through a new benefits package. Among its various offerings, the package included a benefit for up to 124 hours annually of an in-home health aide for respite care, home-based chores and assistance with activities of daily living.

In addition to suggesting the continued importance of respite care, the Ipsos-RBC Wealth Management survey also strengthened the case for home care agencies to develop and roll out specialized dementia care programs.

Among respondents who have a senior relative in their life, about 10% say they help care for somebody who has been diagnosed with some form of dementia.

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