The adverse consequences of poor medical care to seniors, especially people with dementia, don’t require a deep understanding to see. The good news is there are several options for senior citizens to choose from when it comes to requiring assistance with their daily living, including independent living communities, nursing homes, residential care facilities, and even unpaid caregivers.
However, many prefer in-home care as it is inexpensive compared to other living arrangements, and the elderly receive the care they need in their home environment. Although many elderly prefer receiving care at home rather than staying at residential care facilities, a recent report revealed serious problems associated with in-home care.
Ehline Law and our elder abuse personal injury attorneys have worked closely with elderly abuse victims, helping them with legal care and advocating for their rights. We understand the troubles older adults go through, which is why it is crucial to talk about their needs.
What Are Unmet Care Needs?
Unmet needs occur when older adults receiving assistance do not get the required support services. Unmet needs can seriously affect an elderly’s quality of life, leading to an increase in hospitalizations and early deaths.
Study Reveals Unmet Needs of Seniors Relying on In-home Care
There is no consensus on defining and assessing unmet needs, and many previous researchers emphasize the factors associated with unmet needs at a micro level.
Let’s look at the findings of the study published by the Population Reference Bureau on October 19, 2022, and whether it is different than studies conducted in the past.
The In-home Care Elderly Have Unmet Needs than Those Living in Residential Facilities
The study uses National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) data (2015 and 2017) to study the relationship between the adverse consequences of unmet needs and the type of care the elderly receives.
It focuses on the elderly receiving help with at least one of the following activities due to their health and physical disabilities or limitations:
- Self-care activities
- Mobility activities
- Household activities.
In a National Health and Aging Trends Study conducted by the University of Wisconsin, the odds of facing unmet needs with at-home care services compared to those living in residential care homes are almost four times higher.
There is a serious need to improve at-home care arrangements to meet the needs of the elderly paying for such services. Some elderly may be less comfortable receiving help during baths or showering, which is why simple solutions such as fitting grab bars or seats in the shower can provide them with the independence they require.
These solutions are already present at most residential living facilities, which may explain why the elderly living there are not facing such hardships.
The gap between the care provided and the expectations of the elderly arises from poor communication. For example, at-home care may help with laundry, perhaps not food preparation. There is a need for better communication between the elderly and caregivers or healthcare providers to understand the needs of older adults.
The situation may be much worse if there is a language barrier, as demonstrated by a multi-level perspective study conducted in Switzerland.
Older People in Stepfamilies Are Less Likely to Receive Help from Adult Children
Although older adults face challenges while receiving in-home care, the negative consequences are far more significant for those living with stepfamilies.
The shift from traditional American culture, where a man would only have one wife, to divorces and remarriages has led many older parents to have more stepchildren than biological children. About one in eight older adults with activity limitations have a stepchild.
There would be a disconnect and lack of care between adult children and older parents, especially if the children did not live with their parents or step-parents during childhood.
The study shows that older adults with biological children are more likely to receive care than those with stepchildren. Surprisingly, even with this gap between care provided by biological and stepchildren, 50% of older adults still have their needs unmet.
Using the 2015 NHATS data of 2,000 older parents, the research study explores whether parents were living with their partner and receiving care from them. According to the findings, older adults living with their partner or adult child still had high rates of unmet needs. Although the partner and adult children care for them, they might require help and training.
Other help that the partner or adult children can come in the form of home modifications, counseling on how to take care of older adults and receive benefits, and programs that offer respite care.
Government should also provide financial assistance in the form of paid family leave or tax credits to help the family cover the caregiving expenses of the older adults.
Older Adults with Lower Incomes and Dementia Are More Likely to Face Consequences of Unmet
Adults with dementia often struggle financially, as treating dementia can drain their bank balance. Most older adults suffering from dementia are enrolled in both federal programs, Medicaid and Medicare, meaning they fall under the low-income group and have limited social support. Those with stepchildren receive little to no family support, resulting in inadequate at-home care.
It can make it challenging to receive the extensive care needed by the elderly with advanced stages of dementia. Family caregivers can provide only primary care pertaining to eating, bathing, and dressing for older adults living with advanced dementia. Family members cannot offer specialized care that includes cognitive exercise and rehabilitation services.
Those with dementia often face greater odds of suffering from the consequences of unmet care than those without dementia. Caregiving is a collaborative effort between the paid caregivers, other unpaid caregivers, and the informal caregiver (family or friends). Often, caregivers may not be ready to properly give their attention to the older adult since they may juggle multiple paid jobs or care for their children.
There is a need for generous and accessible Medicaid or government support programs offering home and community-based services to lower-income adults with dementia. These can include extensive training for paid and informal caregivers, an increase in wages for caregivers, and funding for medical assistance equipment or necessary home modifications. The bad news is less than half of seniors carry private insurance for health care, so it can be tricky to get what you need for things like the unment need for dementia living provisions.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law
Although the elderly receiving care in their homes has unmet needs, those at residential homes are at risk of elderly abuse. Negligent caregivers and improperly trained staff can result in serious injuries, affecting the elderly’s quality of life and social interaction.
Senior citizens often are afraid to speak up about the abuse or injuries they suffer at the hands of a caregiver or nurse. If you notice signs of elder abuse on your parents or someone you know residing at residential living facilities, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as they may need legal help to gain a better understanding and possible explanation of how to obtain financial damages from a negligent nursing home or care provider.