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Patterns and Predictors of Formal and Informal Care Among Elderly Persons Living in Board and Care Homes

The Gerontologist , Volume 39 (2) – Apr 1, 1999


The Gerontological Society of America
Copyright © 1999 Oxford University Press
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Patterns and Predictors of Formal and Informal Care Among Elderly Persons Living in Board and Care Homes


The purpose of this study was to investigate the patterns and predictors of formal and informal help among a sample of older persons living in board and care homes ( N = 617). Formal helpers such as facility staff, service agencies, and community organizations were the most common providers of assistance, particularly for activities of daily living (ADLs; e.g., bathing, dressing, toileting) that required close and continual proximity. Informal helpers such as family members, friends, and other residents were most likely to assist with instrumental ADL (IADL) tasks such as shopping and getting around outside. The need for assistance with ADLs predicted the amount of formal ADL help received by residents, whereas both ADL need and the presence of mental illness predicted the amount of IADL help received from formal sources. In contrast, demographic factors such as gender and race, as well as the frequency of family contact, predicted the amount of informal help with IADL tasks. White residents, women, and those with frequent family contact were among those most likely to receive assistance from informal helpers. The results suggest the need to encourage the provision of informal assistance as well as the need to ensure the availability of sufficient staff and other formal helpers are available to provide formal care in these settings.
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