You'll Be Happier If Your Parents Move to Senior Care

Caring.com Survey Reveals Peace of Mind Caregivers Feel

choosing assisted living
Adult children are happier when mom chooses assisted living. Hopefully mom is too!. Getty Images

Adult children report higher satisfaction when their parents move to Assisted Living, according to new research from Caring.com, the leading Internet resource for family caregivers. Call it peace of mind.

Adult children who assist their aging parents rely first on the Internet rather than in-person professional advice when investigating care options, and are more satisfied once their aging loved one moves into a senior living community.

“It’s clear that Internet resources are supplementing and often replacing offline professional recommendations in the minds of consumers making senior care choices,” said Andy Cohen, CEO of Caring.com.

While most older Americans prefer to live independently, as they become frailer many move in with other family members or relocate to assisted living or another senior living option.  Caring.com’s research into the caregiver journey looked separately at these three groups.

By The Numbers

Adult children whose parents are still independent are half as likely to be satisfied with their situation (24%) as those whose loved ones live either with them or in a senior living community.  Over one-third are concerned for their loved ones’ health and safety, and one-quarter say the toll taken by caregiving was increasing to the point that they’d need to consider other options soon.  Unfortunately, many people feel stuck.

  Half say their loved ones would never consider moving out of their homes, and one in five think their financial situation means living at home is their only option.

So how are they coping?  Almost half of this group employs some form of paid in-home care.  Only 11%, however, take advantage of any government assistance programs, and only a few more use volunteer programs such as meal deliver services.

Another coping strategy is assisted living.  Of the survey segment whose loved ones lived in any type of senior living community, 74% had moved there from their own homes.  Only 10% had moved from a relative’s home.  The remaining people moved from one senior living community to another.    

Most of the time, a medical diagnosis prompts a move to a senior living community.  Others move because the caregiving relative’s situation changes.  Fewer than 10% say that loneliness was the reason, even though most senior living community marketing focuses on lifestyle issues and social concerns.

Often, adult children do not know about the senior living communities in their area, with only 40% saying that local knowledge drove their choice.  To find an appropriate place, far more turned to online options, such as directory sites like Caring.com, third-party consumer reviews, and the community’s own web site, than sought advice from in-person senior care professionals or the medical community.

Move In with Family Member

For those who cannot live on their own, another good choice is to move in with a family member.

  Over 60% of those seeking caregiving advice online were living together with their care recipient.  Many of these were spousal caregivers, but 21% had moved their aging loved one into their own home, and another 13% had moved into the home of their loved one in order to provide care.

Many in this group rely on paid caregivers, with 28% employing an outsider in their homes to supplement family care.  Even more, however, say they do everything themselves and receive no assistance from professionals, government assistance programs, community volunteers, or technology.

And they do so for years, because living together with the person you’re caring for is a long-term decision.  Over half had been living together three years or more, and as mentioned above, few move afterwards into a senior living community.  Fortunately, it’s often a good decision, with 50% saying they are satisfied with the situation, the same as those whose loved ones are in senior living and twice as high as those whose loved ones still live alone.

Alzheimer's Focus

Caring.com looked separately at those families whose loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.  This group spent more hours each week on caregiving tasks, and were much more likely than others to be managing medications, paying bills, and communicating with friends and family about their loved one’s condition.  This group skewed much more heavily male than the general caregiving population.  Men represent only 14% of those caring for elderly loved ones with general conditions, but 36% of those caring for Alzheimer’s patients.  Finally, due to the heavy burden of care required, Alzheimer’s caregivers were much less likely than other caregivers to agree with the statement “Families should care for each other no matter what.”

The Caring.com survey of 2,098 people was conducted online from July 8 – August 10, 2015. All of the survey-takers had searched online for senior care assistance, although exact search terms varied from general caregiving to specific senior housing search terms.  For more details, visit https://www.caring.com/research/senior-care-in-2015.

Continue Reading