Consumer / Employer, Top Story

Study: Seniors prefer in-home care, but most are unaware of options available

Of those aged 50 years or older, 70% would prefer in-home care, a new survey by Cross Country Workforce Solutions Group found. But while 66% of respondents said they have thought about their future healthcare needs, only 9% said they are actively looking into it and 34% said they haven’t thought about it at all.

Here’s more evidence that the healthcare system needs to further expand the capability of delivering care at home. A new survey found that a majority of people aged 50 or above would prefer to remain in their current home in the future. However, many are unaware of in-home programs like PACE, a Medicare and Medicaid program, and many have not considered their future care needs, according to the survey by Cross Country Workforce Solutions Group.

Cross Country Workforce Solutions Group is a division of Cross Country Healthcare, a provider of in-home clinical and non-clinical care for seniors.

The survey polled 500 American residents between 50 and 79 years of age who live in a home, condominium or apartment without paid in-home care. The survey was conducted online from February 10 to March 2.

In-home care is preferred

A whopping 70% of respondents said they would prefer to stay home with support in the future, rather than go to an outside facility like a retirement community or nursing home. 

“At-home care has proven to provide a better quality of life and outcomes for seniors requiring perpetual care, and it has tremendous potential to relieve some of the burdens our healthcare system will face with today’s aging population,” Pamela Jung, president of Cross Country Workforce Solutions Group, said in a news release. “We believe that keeping seniors at home for as long as possible is a win-win for patients and the healthcare system.”

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The most popular managed-at-home-care services respondents would be interested in is transportation to appointments (45%), medically necessary care (45%), shopping (36%), meal preparation (33%) and laundry (32%). Medically necessary care refers to care prescribed by a physician to treat an illness, condition, disease or injury.

Preferences for at-home care also vary on timing: 29% prefer mornings, 40% prefer afternoons, 20% prefer 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 6% prefer evenings and 4% prefer around the clock. Additionally, 38% prefer care one to two days a week, 34% prefer three to four days, 15% prefer five days, 1% prefer six days and 12% prefer seven days.

The survey found that 73% were interested in learning more about the cost of in-home care. The second issue of interest were background checks, with 66% wanting to learn more about what kind of background check is done on in-home caregivers.

Many are underprepared

While 66% of respondents said they have thought about their future healthcare needs, only 9% said they are actively looking into it and 34% said they haven’t thought about it at all. This is mostly true across age groups, but those in their 60s were slightly more likely to be thinking about their future healthcare needs.

There is a wider gap between groups on whether they have thought of future needs based on net worth, the study found.

Of those aged 60 to 79 with a net worth of $500,000 or more, 74% have thought about their future care. Of those with a net worth of less than $50,000, 51% said they have thought about it. There is also some variation based on race, with 68% of Caucasian respondents saying they’ve considered their future care, compared to 59% of non-white respondents.

The top three reasons for not thinking about future healthcare needs are that the respondent doesn’t have any health issues (51%), the respondent avoids thinking about it (30%) or the respondent can’t afford it (27%).

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they have not considered a budget for future healthcare, compared to 43% of those who have. Of those who said they have considered their budget, 69% said they would use their savings, 68% said they would use Medicare, 19% said they would use Medicaid, 4% said they would use their children and 8% said they would use some other way to pay for future care.

As the U.S. population ages with seniors accounting for a larger proportion of the overall population, it is quite conceivable that in-home care programs like PACE will be leveraged to help seniors gain more flexible and independent care options. 

“For many, managed-at-home healthcare provides an alternative to offer more independence while optimizing individual care,” Jung of Cross Country Workforce Solutions, said in the news release. “It centers healthcare around a person’s life rather than centering their life around healthcare. We believe that’s the way it should be.”

Photo: Dispatch Health