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The majority of older adults (79%) responding to Genworth’s Caregiving in COVID-19 Beyond Dollars Study 2021 said they preferred to receive care in their homes, but only 42% actually received assistance at home. Comparatively, 5% said they wanted to be cared for in an assisted living community, whereas 13% actually moved into a community.
Loved ones who moved an older adult into assisted living reported having greater feelings of guilt related to that move due limits to their ability to provide assistance (35%) compared with providing care at home (22%), moving an older adult into a caregiver’s home (15%) or sending an older adult to an adult day facility (9%). The feelings of guilt were greater for families with loved ones that moved into nursing homes, however (40%).
Long-term care insurance
Researchers said that the pandemic increased the belief in the importance of early planning — 29% of respondents in 2021 said they believed in long-term care insurance compared with 15% in 2018. The number of people who actually bought long-term care insurance has not changed significantly, however, remaining at 14% as in 2018.
Of note is the study finding that insurance influences where care is delivered. Owners of long-term care insurance (25%) were significantly more likely than non-owners (11%) to receive care in an assisted living community, where, researchers said, residents may have more space and better accommodations than what typically is provided in nursing homes.
More likely to consult professionals for support and knowledge
Compared with 2018, family caregivers were more likely to use professionals when seeking support and knowledge about caregiving options, including social workers (23% of respondents said they used them in 2021, up from 18% in 2018), financial professionals (20% up from 17%) and attorneys / elder law specialists (11%, up from 7%).
Top “helpful” resources for family caregivers in 2021, respondents said, were television programs (70%), internet-based social networks (68%), attorneys / elder law specialists (66%), financial advisers (65%) and nonprofit groups (61%).
But the average time families spent researching professional caregivers dropped from 7.6 hours in 2018 to 6.8 hours in 2021.
Care needs more severe, longer lasting
Overall, the study found, longer lifespans and increased demand for complex care are complicating caregiving. Care needs are more severe and longer lasting compared with 2018 study results, the researchers said.
According to the most recent study, 49% of care recipients require help with all activities of daily living, up from 39% in 2018. And the average duration of care needed rose from three years to 3.5 years.
Older adults also have more age-related limitations (47% had such limitations in 2021, up from 44% in 2018), cognitive impairments (32%, up from 26%) and accidents requiring rehabilitation (23%, up from 21%).
Genworth conducted the latest Beyond Dollars study in April; it had 1,325 participants.