A National Profile Of End-Of-Life Caregiving In The United States
Author: Katherine A. Ornstein, Amy S. Kelley, Evan Bollens-Lund, Jennifer L. Wolff
To date, knowledge of the experiences of older adults’ caregivers at the end of life has come from studies that were limited to specific diseases and so-called primary caregivers and that relied on the recollections of people in convenience samples. Using nationally representative, prospective data for 2011, we found that 900,000 community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries ages sixty-five and older who died within the following twelve months received support from 2.3 million caregivers. Nearly nine in ten of these caregivers were unpaid. Compared to other caregivers, end-of-life caregivers provided nearly twice as many hours of care per week and, especially in the case of spousal caregivers, reported more care-related challenges. Yet older adults at the end of life were not significantly more likely than other older adults to receive caregiving funded by government, state, or private insurance. To meet the needs of older adults at the end of life, their unpaid caregivers must receive greater recognition and expanded access to supportive services.