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Coe NB, Werner RM. Informal Caregivers Provide Considerable Front-Line Support In Residential Care Facilities And Nursing Homes. Health affairs (Project Hope). 2022 Jan 1; 41(1):105-111.
Informal care, or care provided by family and friends, is the most common form of care received by community-dwelling older adults with functional limitations. However, less is known about informal care provision within residential care settings including residential care facilities (for example, assisted living) and nursing homes. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (2016) and the National Health and Aging Trends Study (2015), we found that informal care was common among older adults with functional limitations, whether they lived in the community, a residential care facility, or a nursing home. The hours of informal care provided were also nontrivial across all settings. This evidence suggests that informal caregiving and some of the associated burdens do not end when a person transitions from the community to residential care or a nursing home setting. It also points to the large role that families play in the care and well-being of these residents, which is especially important considering the recent visitor bans during the COVID-19 epidemic. Family members are an invisible workforce in nursing homes and residential care facilities, providing considerable front-line work for their loved ones. Providers and policy makers could improve the lives of both the residents and their caregivers by acknowledging, incorporating, and supporting this workforce.