Home and community based service delivery is a critical component for the future of senior care but a new study finds that paid caregivers may not be up to the task. A new study, titled “Inadequate Health Literacy among Paid Caregivers of Seniors”, by Northwestern University finds that more than one-third of caregivers had difficulty reading and understanding health-related information and directions. Sixty percent made errors when sorting medications into pillboxes. The study, which will be published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, surveyed non-family caregivers in the Chicago area and assesses their health literacy levels and caregiving tasks. The study is serving as a basis to work on establishing employment screening tasks as one of the long-term goals of the study.
“We found that nearly 86 percent of the caregivers perform health-related tasks,” said Lee Lindquist, MD, assistant professor of geriatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and lead author of the study. “Most of the caregivers are women, about 50 years old. Many are foreign born or have a limited education. The jobs typically pay just under $9 per hour, but nearly one-third of the caregivers earn less than minimum wage.”