It’s clear that people are living longer than ever before. In 2010, the average life expectancy among Canadians was 81.24, in comparison to 71.13 in 1960 — but the average life span is not the only thing that has risen. Living longer, means that elderly individuals are often living with one of more chronic conditions.
In turn, elderly adults are in need of care, helping them stay as independent as possible. Interestingly, a new study has shed some light on these rising trends — what do these trends mean and who is seeking care? What does this mean for caregivers?
In-Home Care Continues to Rise
In order to better analyze current trends, 5,198 individuals were included in a recent study, published in JAMA. After 39,060 observations of home-dwelling adults, all who were over the age of 55 years old, living with one or more impairment, some interesting results were reported.
First of all, researchers found that caregiver assistance among older adults increased from 42 percent in 1998 to 50 percent in 2012. This included care provided by children, spouses, and other family members, as well as paid caregivers.
The greatest increase was seen among those with fewer ADL (activities of daily living) and IADL (instrumental daily activity living) impairments. Of course, those with more impairments may have already sought a caregiver, however, those with one or two impairments, may now be seeking assistance so that they can age within their community, in comparison to a nursing home.
Researchers were quite surprised by the size of the increase between 1998 and 2012, as they switched their attention to the needs of caregivers. The senior population is expanding and in terms of the baby boomer population, caregiving needs will continue to peak.
It’s clear that more and more seniors want to stay home — they value their independence. As this population in need grows, we need to come up with solutions as a society, helping take some of this strain off caregivers. As stated in the study, 3.1 million more American seniors had in-home care in 2012 than they did in 1998 — that’s a lot of additional caregivers.
But There’s More…
While focusing on the participants of this study, clear differences emerged. It was found that those who had education beyond high school and exhibited an above-average net worth, represented an increase in paid caregiving, in comparison with those who had less wealth and education.
This also suggested that those who could essentially afford a nursing home, would prefer to age in the comfort of their home. In contrast, it was found that two-thirds of men and 45 percent of women did not receive any caregiving at all — despite the fact that they have trouble completing routine tasks, including getting dressed, bathing, and taking medications.
At this time, researchers are most concerned for caregivers and the lack of support. As demands increase, the risk of burnout is a major concern, as well as missed educational and professional opportunities for younger caregivers. It’s clear that caregivers are critical to the well-being of disabled older adults, yet they are being largely unrecognized.
In order to provide family caregivers and their loved ones with the support they require, caregiving services can help reduce stress and improve the health of both the caregiver and the disabled individual. In Ontario, a Community Care Access Centre can provide information on what kind of services are available in your community.
Whether you require friendly visitations, caregiver relief, homemaking, or even 24-hour live-in care, help is only a phone call away.
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