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Eldercare Responsibilities Strain Careers, Marriages, SeniorBridge Family Study Shows.

Business Editors


-- More than One-Third of Care Recipients Under-Medicate

Themselves, Skip Meals or Find Themselves Alone When

Emergencies Occur

More than one-third (35%) of caregivers who work outside the home and 30% of those who are married believe that eldercare responsibilities have strained their job performance and marriage, according to a national survey of caregivers released today by SeniorBridge Family, a leading provider of home-based eldercare services. The survey - which polled men and women who care for an aging, parent, friend or relative at home or in an independent living facility - found that caregivers spend an average of 10 hours per week coordinating or actively providing care.

Despite their sacrifices, 48% of the caregivers surveyed lack confidence in the quality of their caregiving arrangements. An even higher percentage (64%) is dissatisfied or only marginally satisfied with the convenience of these arrangements. By point of comparison, only 29% of the survey respondents who rely on outside childcare services worry about the quality of their children's care, and only 35% are dissatisfied with the convenience of these services.

"Most caregivers are time-starved and overwhelmed by the complexity of their caregiving responsibilities," notes Larry Sosnow, Chief Executive Officer of SeniorBridge Family. "Fully 80% of the survey respondents work full-time outside the home and are juggling eldercare, childcare and job responsibilities. At the same time, many are caring for patients with increasingly serious physical and cognitive impairments - conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease and debilitating arthritis, which are on the rise due to longer life expectancies."

Home Alone

While care recipients in the SeniorBridge Family study receive, on average, 16 to 20 hours of care from all caregivers combined - paid and unpaid - nearly half (46%) of the men and women surveyed believe that there are additional hours of care that are needed but not provided. One in ten estimate that care recipients need - but are not receiving - more than 30 hours of additional care per week. Half believe that care recipients need eleven or more additional hours of care per week.

Perhaps as a result of this shortfall, nearly half (44%) of the survey respondents report that care recipients have missed meals or suffered from poor nutritional intake, while an additional one-third (32%) have visited an emergency room or sustained injuries from an accident. Another 22% have been alone at home when an emergency occurred.

"As the time demands and costs associated with eldercare escalate, many caregivers feel they have no choice than but to cut back on care and supervision," says Sosnow. "The result, unfortunately, is a sharp increase in nutritional problems, injuries and drug noncompliance. All too often, there is no care coordinator in place who is responsible for ensuring a comprehensive and consistent level of caregiving."

The New Crisis in Prescription Drugs

Nearly half (43%) of the caregivers surveyed report that their patients take five or more prescription drugs each day, and 12% report daily regimens of nine or more drugs. On a weekly basis, the percentages escalate to 65% for five or more drugs and 51% for nine or more. While 14% of caregivers believe that the person for whom they care has over-medicated themselves over the past 12 months, non-compliance is a far bigger problem. More than one-third (37%) of caregivers say the person for whom they care has under-medicated themselves or forgotten to take medication during the past year.

Among the survey's other key findings:

-- High Anxiety: Nearly half (41%) of the caregivers surveyed

report that they worry six or more times per week about the

well-being of the person for whom the care, ahead of worries

about their children (27%), job security (22%), retirement

savings (23%), their partner's health (17%), the stock market

(17%), terrorism (12%) or their own health (10%). "Despite the

fact that we're at war and the economy is volatile, it is

eldercare concerns that are keeping caregivers up at night,"

notes Sosnow.

-- Sibling Issues - Cracks Emerge in the Ties That Bind: Although

most (90%) of the caregivers surveyed indicate that they have

siblings, few receive substantial help from them. Fully 60%

indicate that their brothers and sisters do not provide

significant caregiving support, and 31% believe that

caregiving has fueled family tensions. Caregivers with all

male siblings are less likely to receive support than those

with a mix of male and female siblings (26% vs. 45%).

-- An Expensive Proposition: Among caregivers who currently

employ paid full- or part-time help, nearly half (43%) spend

more than $500 per week and 20% spend more than $1,000 per

week on outside care. Most (65%) subsidize the cost of these

services with the care recipient's savings, while 52% reach

into their own pockets to pay for care. Respondents who view

themselves as primary caregivers (50%) are somewhat more

likely to use the care recipient's own insurance or savings to

fund outside care than are supplemental caregivers (33%) or

long-distance caregivers (37%).

-- Misunderstanding Medicare: Caregivers overestimate the

percentage of eldercare costs covered by Medicare. While only

3% of the survey respondents expect Medicare to cover all

(i.e. 100%) of current and future eldercare costs, 26% expect

to be reimbursed for most (75% or more) of their care-related

expenses and 50% expect half or more of costs to be covered.

In reality, Medicare will typically cover only 5-20% of the

cost of eldercare.

-- Squeezed From all Sides: Caregivers rank "juggling caregiving

with other work/personal commitments" as their number one

problem, cited by 40% of respondents. Other major problems

include "providing care from a distance" (30%), "dealing with

other family members" (27%), "coordinating care among doctors,

care providers and outside specialists" (27%) and "handling

care recipients' emotional problems" (25%). Men are slightly

more concerned than women with "providing care from a

distance" (35% vs. 25%), while women are more concerned than

men with "coping with their own emotions of fear, anger and

guilt" (25% vs. 16%) and "handling care recipients' emotional

problems" (28% vs. 22%).

-- Help On The Way: While roughly one-third (34%) of the survey

respondents currently receive help from paid caregivers, 68%

of those without outside help indicate that they are very

likely or somewhat likely to employ a paid caregiver in the


-- Male Caregiving Comes of Age: Surprisingly, an almost equal

percentage of men and women describe themselves as primary

caregivers. More than one-third of men (36%) and women (34%)

identify themselves as the main providers of care, while

roughly the same percentage (36% of men and 31% of women) get

help from one or more paid care providers. Nearly one in six

men (14%) and women (15%) live at a distance and spend most of

their time coordinating care. Overall, women spend slightly

more time providing and coordinating care than men, with 24%

of the women surveyed spending more than 10 hours per week on

care, compared with 20% of men.

-- Mothering Our Mothers: While 22% of the caregivers surveyed

are caring for their fathers, twice as many (44%) are caring

for their mothers. Other recipients of care include

grandparents (10%), friends (7%), aunts/uncles (4%), spouses

(4%) and brothers/sisters (2%). Male caregivers are equally as

likely to be caring for their mothers as female caregivers.

The SeniorBridge Family Caregiver Study was conducted by an online research firm during April 2004. The survey polled 514 adult caregivers across the U.S. who currently spend (or recently spent) more than two hours per week caring for an aging friend or relative and have total annual household income of at least $100,000. While all of the caregivers surveyed provide or coordinate home-based care, 22% reside with the care recipient, 32% live within 10 miles of the care recipient's home and 14% live more than 200 miles away. Roughly one-quarter (27%) of the respondents live more than 30 miles from the patients for whom they care.

Founded in 2000, SeniorBridge Family is a national provider of home-based eldercare services. Unlike traditional homecare, which treats illness, the SeniorBridge Family model addresses the well-being, comfort and functionality of clients while offering substantial practical and emotional support to their families. The company provides families and patients with an interdisciplinary team of highly qualified professionals, specializing in the field of aging and chronic care. All SeniorBridge Family services - which include medical (nursing, home health care, nutritional counseling/monitoring) and wellness services (e.g., social work, exercise, cognitive fitness, nutrition, financial and pre-legal services management) - are designed to help patients stay in their homes or assisted living facilities as long as possible. The company has offices in Baltimore, Boca Raton, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Hackensack, Indianapolis, Montclair, New York, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Sarasota and West Palm Beach. For more information about SeniorBridge Family, please visit the company's Web site at

For a copy of the survey's executive summary, please contact:

Jeremy Goodridge

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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jun 7, 2004
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