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Help from children keeps elderly parents at home
One-third of people age 70 and older with physical limitations received regular help from their children with basic personal care such as eating, bathing, dressing, or maneuvering around their home, although only 7% received help most of the time. About 11% receive both personal care and help with shopping and chores, according to a recent study.
The study findings underscore the importance of family caregiving. Researchers found that disabled Americans age 70 and older who received help from their adult children with basic personal care were 60% less likely to use nursing home care over a two-year period than similar elders who did not receive assistance. The likelihood that people would receive help increased with the number of adult children. Black and Hispanic elders were substantially more likely than whites to receive help from their children.
Initiatives such as respite care, tax breaks for family caregivers, and requirements that employers offer time off or flexible schedules for workers with caregiving responsibilities could reduce costly nursing home admissions by encouraging families to provide care for their elderly parents, wrote Anthony T. Lo Sasso, PhD, research associate professor in the Institute for Health Services Research and Policy Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, and Richard W. Johnson, PhD, research associate of the Urban Institute in Washington, DC.1
Lo Sasso and Johnson analyzed data on elderly health, assistance from family members, characteristics of adult children, and nursing home admissions from a nationally representative longitudinal survey of more than 7,000 Americans age 70 and older.
1. Lo Sasso AT, Johnson RW. Does informal care from adult children reduce nursing home admissions for the elderly? Inquiry 2002; 39:279-297.