Nearly one-third of Americans use gray market caregivers to help the elderly and people with dementia

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According to a new study by RAND Corporation, nearly a third of Americans who arranged paid care for an elderly person or someone with dementia employed workers who were not hired through a regulated agency.

People who hired gray market caregivers were less likely to take care of themselves and also used unpaid care for their relatives. In addition, people living in rural areas were almost five times more likely to organize. through gray markets compared to those living in urban areas.

The study is the first national survey to examine the use of gray market care for older adults and people with . The findings are published by Journal of Applied Gerontology.

“Gray market care represents a substantial proportion of long-term paid care for older adults and can fill gaps in access to care,” said Regina A. Shih, lead author of the study and senior policy researcher at RAND, a non-profit research organization. “A better understanding of the use of gray market caregivers for older Americans is important to meeting the needs of the nation’s aging population.”

The study defined gray market caregivers as paid providers who are unrelated to the recipient, who do not work for a regulated agency, and who may have no control or training.

The rapid aging of the U.S. is expected to increase the demand for long-term care and aid to aid activities of daily living. Demographic and social trends reduce the number of family caregivers available to help older adults. As a result, the need for home and personal assistants is expected to grow by 36% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Lots of who need help do not qualify for Medicaid-sponsored long-term services and supports and may not be able or willing to pay out-of-pocket to hire nurses or helpers through a home health agency.

To explore the use of gray market caregivers, RAND researchers in August 2017 studied a random sample of 1,037 members of the RAND American Life Panel, a nationally representative panel of adults. Respondents were asked if they had sought care for an older adult and about their formal place. he was busy.

Among survey participants, 28% had arranged long-term care related to aging for themselves or someone they loved. Of the respondents who organized any paid care (including those who combined paid and unpaid care), 31% hired a gray market provider.

Similarly, 31% of respondents who organized paid care for someone with dementia also sought care in the gray market. Among those who were gray market consumers, 65% also organized or provided unpaid care themselves.

Researchers say people with dementia need it and live there may have more difficulty accessing or paying for regulated home and community providers than those living in urban areas.

Regulations for home health care agencies vary by state, but are usually required to have criminal background checks, verify education or training, and maintain clinical records.

When workers work in an agency, they are usually covered by disability and liability insurance to protect consumers and suppliers in the event of an accident at work. Agency-based employees may also be eligible or contribute to social security programs and employee benefits.

“Without the supervision of the agency, the quality of care provided by caregivers in the gray market is unknown and the potential for exploitation or abuse of both the beneficiary and the care provider has not been systematically studied.” , said Shih.

Researchers say more research is needed on the use of gray market care to identify the factors that contribute to its use, improve gray quality and provide training for dementia care skills among providers.


Family caregivers are rarely asked for help caring for older adults


Provided by
RAND Corporation


Citation: Nearly one-third of Americans use gray market caregivers to help seniors and people with dementia (2021, June 21) recovered on June 21, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021- 06-americans-gray-caregivers-aid -elderly.html

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