U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Home Health and Hospice Care

In 2006, approximately 6.1 million people began receiving home health care services, while nearly 940,000 were admitted to hospice care. Overall, women account for a greater proportion of users of home health and hospice services than men; in 2007, 64.8 percent of current home health care patients (aged 18 and older) were women, while 55.1 percent of hospice discharges were of women. While women accounted for a greater proportion than men of home health care patients within all age groups, the proportion of hospice patients who were women varied by age group.

Among adults under 65 years of age, men accounted for a greater percentage of hospice discharges in 2007 than women (53.7 versus 46.3 percent, respectively), while men and women made up about equal proportions of discharges for those aged 65–84 years. In comparison, 65.3 percent of hospice patients aged 85 and older were women. This is likely due, at least in part, to the longer life expectancy among women than men.

In 2007, the large majority of both home health care patients and patients discharged from hospice care were non-Hispanic White (76.2 and 87.6 percent, respectively; age-adjusted). Non-Hispanic Black women accounted for an additional 12.9 percent of home health care patients, while 8.4 percent were Hispanic. Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women made up a substantially smaller proportion of hospice care patients discharged in 2007: 5.9 percent were non-Hispanic Black and 5.2 percent were Hispanic (data not shown).

As the U.S. population ages, there will be a greater reliance on home health care and on those providing care in the home. Research has found that the burden of care-giving may have numerous physical and emotional health consequences including increased likelihood of chronic disease, fatigue and loss of sleep, stress or anxiety, pain, depression, and headaches.1 As such, the health needs of female caregivers will also need to be addressed.

1 Godfrey JR, Warshaw GA.  Toward Optimal Health: Considering the Enhanced Healthcare Needs of Women Caregivers.  Journal of Women’s Health. 2009; 18(11): 1739-1742.

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