Study Shows Diversity of Grieving Among Caregivers

September 11, 2010

A new study by the University of Michigan reveals that racial and ethnic differences play a role in the emotional attitudes of caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. These findings could help improve support services for caregivers.

The study, conducted by James McNally of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, part of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, looked at more than 600 caregivers in three racial and ethnic groups: whites, blacks, and Hispanics. The study found differences in the way these groups accepted death, let go of loved ones, and expressed anger.

According to the study, whites and Hispanics are three to five times more likely as blacks to feel relief when the Alzheimer’s sufferer dies. McNally explained that this is consistent with studies that show that blacks have more stressors in their lives than other groups, so they do not get a break after a loved one dies. In addition, the study showed that whites are twice as likely to report emotional acceptance at the death of a loved one as Hispanics and blacks.

The study showed the groups have big differences in feelings of anger toward the deceased. Black caregivers were twice as likely to express anger as Hispanics. Meanwhile, white caregivers were considerably more likely than both Hispanics and blacks to report feelings of anger.

McNally presented the study at the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Honolulu. McNally believes these results can help provide support services to caregivers. For example, blacks may need to address the ongoing other stressors in their lives, but Hispanics could need to focus on separation issues with the deceased.

For more information on the study, click here.

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Survey Finds Medicare Doesn’t Work As Well for Younger, Disabled Beneficiaries

September 6, 2010

A new survey of nearly 4,000 Medicare beneficiaries has found that Medicare beneficiaries who are younger than 65 receive fewer medical services, have a harder time paying for the medical care that they do receive, and are more likely to feel sad or depressed than older beneficiaries. The survey, which was conducted between 2008 and 2009, also highlights the disparity between younger and older beneficiaries when it comes to finding a doctor. Twelve percent of younger beneficiaries claimed that they had difficulty finding a doctor who would accept Medicare, compared to only 4 percent of senior respondents who reported similar problems.

In addition to being the principal health care insurance program for people 65 years of age and over, Medicare covers people of any age who are permanently disabled or who have end-stage renal disease. The 3,913 survey respondents included 2,288 non-institutionalized Medicare recipients under age 65 and 1,625 recipients over age 65. The authors of the study point out that, compared to the elderly recipients, the younger Medicare recipients were more racially diverse, had lower incomes, less education and were in worse physical condition, likely because the younger recipients gained access to Medicare after being deemed permanently disabled and were unable to work.

The survey highlighted several areas where younger beneficiaries deviated significantly from their older counterparts. For instance, one-half of the younger respondents had problems paying for medical services in the year prior to the survey, but only 18 percent of seniors had the same difficulty. Likewise, the younger beneficiaries had a harder time finding Medicare Part D prescription drug plans that would cover their medications. However, the study did find that dual eligible Medicare beneficiaries — those who receive both Medicaid and Medicare — reported fewer problems with cost and access to services when compared to beneficiaries who received only Medicare.

The study was conducted by Juliette Cubanski and Patricia Neuman who both work for the Medicare Policy Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation. It is available for free online for the next several weeks, after which readers can purchase access to the study for a nominal fee. To read the study, click here.