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Study Finds Seniors Need In-Home Medical Care — But Face Few Options

At Visiting Angels, we know the importance of in-home care, and we know that for millions of American seniors, it is important that care comes to them and not the other way around. Thankfully, the market for non-medical in-home care is bigger than ever. Now, housebound or mobility-limited seniors are able to get much of the support and care they need in the comfort of their own homes.

But when it comes to doctor’s visits, it’s a completely different story. These days, it’s almost impossible for seniors to receive an in-home visit from a physician — something that would have seemed unthinkable mere decades ago.

According to a new study, American seniors have almost no options when it comes to in-home medical care. This has left housebound, frail, and mobility-limited seniors — a number researchers estimate may be as high as four million — incredibly vulnerable in terms of their personal health. Home Care Options

Fewer than 1% of Doctors Offer Routine House Calls

There was a time in America where you didn’t go to the doctor — instead, the doctor came to you. As recently as the 1960s, house calls made up 40% of all doctor-patient visits. But nowadays, few physicians will even make a house call, and even fewer offer house calls as a regular part of their routine.

According to Medicare data compiled, analyzed, and reported by researchers from three institutions (the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins, and UCSF), fewer than 1 out of every 100 American physicians offers routine house calls. This leaves housebound or mobility-limited seniors with few options for in-home medical care — if any at all.

In fact, the researchers found that the majority of housebound seniors live more than 30 miles from a physician who performs regular house calls. This means that they are more or less out of reach when it comes to regular check-ups and medical care.

The study’s authors say that their findings reflect a major shortcoming of the health care system. The researchers say this not only puts housebound seniors at risk but also contributes to ballooning health care costs. The authors argue that increased house call availability would reduce the emergency calls placed by housebound seniors, who make up many of Medicare’s costliest patients. Home Care Options

Non-Medical In-Home Care Readily Available

Ironically, while medical in-home care is now near-impossible to acquire, there is currently a wealth of non-medical in-home care options for American seniors. At Visiting Angels alone, our caregivers serve the non-medical needs of thousands of American seniors every day.

But as America’s choice in home care, we’re also aware that senior health and well-being depends on high-quality medical care for our clients, many of whom suffer from mobility limitations or disadvantages.
“Non-medical in-home care services go a long way toward keeping seniors comfortable and healthy — but high-quality medical care is essential,” says Visiting Angels President and CEO, Larry Meigs. “It’s our hope that the type of care needed by our clients becomes more readily available in the coming years.”

The authors of the study agree. Aaron Yao, the lead author of the study, says that expanding house calls by physicians would not only be cost-effective, it would also have a positive impact on quality of life.

Visiting Angels non-medical in-home care services are offered in communities across the United States. Get in touch with us today to connect with your local provider.

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About the Author

Richard Bitner

Visiting Angels is a national, private duty network of senior care agencies. We are proud to be the nation’s leading provider of non-medical at home care services. With our elder care services, seniors can remain independent and live safely at home. Our senior care services include Social Care, Dementia Care, Alzheimer’s Care, End of Life Care, Companion Care, Private Duty Care, care to prevent hospital readmission, and so much more.

Compassionate, dignified at home senior care is close to home when you connect with your local Visiting Angels office by calling 800-365-4189.

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