Caregivers Improve Care, Lower Costs
January 27, 2012 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
BALTIMORE, Jan. 26 (UPI) — Family members who routinely accompany older adults to physicians’ offices help improve care, U.S. researchers found.
Lead author Jennifer L. Wolff, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins schools of Public Health, Nursing and Medicine, as well as the Weill Cornell Medical College, analyzed a national survey of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found 75 percent of the 9.5 million older adults who attended routine physician visits with a family companion were consistently accompanied at 12 months follow-up — and were accompanied 89 percent of the time by the same companion.
Nearly 35.5 percent of accompanied beneficiaries were physically disabled and received help with daily activities from the family companion.
The caregivers of these patients were more active in communication during visits, providing information directly to the doctor, asking the doctor questions and explaining the doctor’s instructions to the patient.
“Initiatives to improve older adults’ quality of chronic illness care have typically focused on improving health care professional and patient competencies, and have ignored the fact that Medicare beneficiaries often manage their health conditions and attend routine physician visits with a family member, predominantly a spouse or an adult child,” Wolff said in a statement. “Results from this study may help inform health reform initiatives that seek to improve care quality and lower costs.”