Caregiver Journey Illuminated in New Caring.com Research
Family Members Change Living Situation, Pay Out of Pocket for Home Care, and Read Online Information to Cope with Caring for Aging Loved Ones
SAN MATEO, CA; September 28, 2015 — Adult children who assist their aging parents seek help from paid caregivers, rely first on the Internet rather than in-person professional advice, and are happier once their aging loved one moves into a senior living community, according to new research from Caring.com.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all to senior care and there’s no orderly progression from one phase to the next,” said Andy Cohen, CEO of Caring.com. “Families cope the best they can, given the situations in which they find themselves, and despite the fact that we’ve been running our website for nearly eight years, we were still surprised at their answers to a number of survey questions.”
Among the key findings:
- Paid caregiving help was useful for more than one-third of all survey respondents, including 48% of those whose aging loved ones lived independently and 27% of those whose loved ones lived with them.
- Once an older adult moves in with their family member(s), they are often there for the long term. Half of those living together had been doing so longer than three years, and only 10% of those who moved to a senior living community were living in a family member’s home before the move.
- Families coping with Alzheimer’s disease were 25% less likely than other caregivers to agree with the statement: “Families should take care of each other, no matter what.”
- Loneliness doesn’t prompt adult children to move their parent(s) to a senior living community; only 8% of survey respondents mentioned it as a factor. The overwhelming driver of residential community move-ins is a medical diagnosis (58%), followed by the needs of the caregiving family member (27%).
- More people rely on consumer reviews on the Internet than on recommendations by professionals or medical personnel.
- Those whose loved ones had moved to a senior living community were twice as likely to be satisfied with their care situation as those whose loved ones still lived independently.
The Caring.com survey of 2,098 people was conducted online from July 8 – August 10, 2015. All of the survey-takers had searched online for senior care assistance, although exact search terms varied from general caregiving to specific senior housing search terms.
Caring.com examined the “Caregiver Journey” in three segments: those living independently in their own homes but receiving unpaid assistance from relatives (usually adult children); those living with adult children or other relatives; and those living in a senior community.
Among those in the “living independently” segment:
- Approximately 15% were adult children whose parent(s) lived independently in their own home, and another 19% of respondents were themselves the older person living alone.
- The most common medical conditions were high blood pressure (53%), arthritis (49%), and incontinence (39%).
- The most common factor that allowed the older adult to continue living alone was in-home care from a professional. Almost half (48%) employed some kind of paid in-home caregiving help, but only 12% took advantage of volunteer programs such as meal delivery or home visits, and only 11% used any sort of government assistance program outside of Medicare or Medicaid.
- Both the senior and his or her adult children were half as likely to report that they were pleased with their living situation (25%), compared to those living together (50%) or in a senior community (50%). However, 47% of adult children said that their loved one would never consider moving out of his or her home.
Among those in the “living together” segment (60% of survey respondents):
- 60% were spousal caregivers and 40% were non-spouses.
- Spousal caregivers were more likely than others to be caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease (31% vs. 26% of general caregivers). Men were more than a third of spousal caregivers, but made up only 14% of the general caregiving population.
- 66% had been doing so before the loved one needed care, including 15% of non-spousal caregivers. The balance changed their living situation to provide care, with 21% moving their loved one into their own home and 13% moving into their loved one’s home.
- In general, those living together were satisfied with their living situation (50%), although 35% reported being concerned for their loved one’s health or safety – about the same percentage as reported this concern for loved ones living independently (38%). Financial considerations drove 30% of decisions to live together.
- Living together is a long-term commitment — 79% had been living together for more than three years. Only 10% of those living in a senior living community had moved there from a loved one’s home.
Among those in the “Living in a Community” segment (24% of survey respondents):
- 62% had lived there longer than a year, and 20% had lived there longer than three years.
- Most (74%) had moved from their own home where they had been living independently, but 16% had moved to a new community from a different one.
- The most common reason for the move was a medical diagnosis (58%), but 27% of moves were triggered by the needs of the caregiving family members. Only 10% were triggered by the death of a spouse, and only 8% because of loneliness.
- Of those who moved, 31% made the decision within 30 days, and 35% took between 31-60 days.
- Those who didn’t move right away, however, could wait around a long time. Seventeen percent took more than a year to make their decision, including 5% who took longer than three years to make the decision to move into a community.
When asked which tools or resources they used to choose their senior community, only 40% of people said they had local knowledge of the communities in their area. Others relied on word of mouth recommendations (34%), online directories (29%), and the community’s web site (27%) to guide their choices. More people relied on online consumer reviews (21%) than on professional guidance (17%) or recommendations from a doctor or hospital (12%). Only 8% said their loved one already knew of the community and selected it him- or herself.
“It’s clear that Internet resources, including online directories and consumer reviews, are supplementing and often replacing in-person professional recommendations in the minds of consumers making senior care choices,” said Cohen.
Caring will offer a free public webinar on October 8, 2015, where we will go into more detail on the survey findings. To register, visit http://Partners.Caring.com/events You may also get more survey results here: https://www.caring.com/research/senior-care-in-2015.