Families Rely on People not Aging-in-Place Tools to Assist with Senior Care

SAN MATEO, CA: November 19, 2015 — Family members who care for an aging loved one rely on people and online information, not senior care devices, to assist them – and many use nothing at all. No in-home technology scored higher than 14% utilization among caregiving families, and most high-tech caregiver tools were used by even fewer, according to survey data that senior care website Caring.com will present at the Aging 2.0 Expo in San Francisco on November 20, 2015. Yet 30% of families pay professionals, such as home care agencies, to care for their loved ones in their homes, often to supplement care provided by a family member.

“We’ve not yet found the killer app for caregiving, other than paid in-home care,” said Andy Cohen, CEO of Caring.com.

Caregiving takes a heavy toll on families, according to data from Caring.com’s recent survey of online caregivers. Caregivers report health challenges in themselves (such as trouble sleeping and high blood pressure), negative impacts on their work performance (including absenteeism and on-the-job distractions), and tens of thousands of dollars of annual financial outlay. Yet few report taking advantage of current caregiving technologies, including …

  • Personal Emergency Response Systems, which are being used by only 14% of families – although 29% of the seniors living independently in their own homes reported using these systems;
  • Medication management technology, which is being used by 9% of families;
  • Internet-based care coordination sites, which are used by 4% of families;
  • Tele-health remote monitoring technologies, which are only being used by 1% of families.

Even low-tech and inexpensive home modifications, such as raised toilet seats or grab bars in the shower, are available to fewer than half of seniors living at home (see our recent release on the subject at https://www.caring.com/about/news-room/senior-home-safety-2015).

How do families report they are coping? Many are bringing in paid help, including:

  • 48% of those whose loved ones live on their own; and
  • 27% of those whose loved ones live with them.

This care can be expensive. Half of all caregivers spent more than $5,000 per year assisting their loved ones, and 9% spent more than $50,000 on caregiving-related expenses. As many as 30% feel trapped in less-than-optimal care situations by financial constraints.

Surprisingly, lower-cost caregiving coping strategies were used infrequently, such as:

  • Government-provided assistance programs, which only 10% of families reported using;
  • Adult daycare services, which are used by 9% of families; and
  • Volunteer companionship or meal delivery programs, which are used by 6% of families.

Caring.com surveyed 2,098 U.S. adults online from July 8 – August 10, 2015 to ask about their caregiving experience, and what tools and services they used to help them. All survey-takers had searched online for senior care assistance, although exact search terms varied. Over 50% of survey respondents reported living together with their loved one in need of care, and just under 10% were helping loved ones living independently in their own homes. The balance had loved ones in a senior community (20%), or were caring for themselves (18%).

In a final survey question, Caring.com asked an open-ended question about what additional help caregiving families needed. Many answers requested better information about local caregiving options, respite care solutions to support caregivers in emergencies (or when they just need a break), and emotional support and encouragement on their caregiver journey.

“No one asked for more technology,” Cohen pointed out.

Caring.com will present additional details from its Caregiver Journey survey on November 20, at the Aging 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. Top-line results from the survey, including demographics, financial impacts, and housing choices, can be seen at: https://www.caring.com/research/senior-care-in-2015