Heavy Burden for Caregivers: Impacting Healthcare Outcomes
The number of caregivers will greatly increase in the next five years as the baby boomer generation ages; over 115 million Americans will need caregiving assistance by 2020, either as care recipients or family caregivers. Currently, 8% of U.S. broadband households provide care to a family member and an additional 14% anticipate doing so by 2021.
Connected health solutions will play a key role in helping manage this massive workload. Community and health care professional support is critical, but connected solutions can improve care communications, coordinate care tasks, and enhance patient compliance.
Caregivers carry a heavy workload. Four out of five caregivers spend more than an hour per day performing caregiving tasks, such as taking their relative to doctor’s appointments, shopping for them, cleaning their homes, and helping them bathe and dress. Nearly 20% spend more than four hours a day performing these tasks.
Caregivers’ interest in using apps for caregiving far exceeds their current use. For instance, 40% of current caregivers find the idea of using an app to get alerts about emergencies “very appealing,” but only 7% of caregivers are already using apps with this feature. Awareness of these apps is low, and current solutions are not meeting market demand. Given their intimacy with ailing or fragile family members, and their frequency of contact, caregivers have the potential to dramatically impact the health outcomes of those they care for.
Education and outreach—for both caregivers and seniors—need to be top priorities. Medical professionals are highly trusted and may be a good educational resource. However, they are oftentimes crunched for time and resources. Alternatives such as health coaches and health educators focus on patients’ lifestyle and needs; these care providers make education and recommendations their top priority. Additionally, patient communication and educational solutions are one of the three key areas in the digital health markets, alongside virtual care solutions, that could and should target caregivers.
IoT technologies have made virtual care and patient communication and education solutions possible, but they need active engagement of caregivers to allow the technologies to grow.
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