Chronically Ill Often Miles from Help

ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 16 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say some 40 percent of chronically ill adults live alone, often with children living 10 miles away, making caregiving a greater challenge.

Researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor looked at patients age 51 or older with chronic health problems who participated in the 2006 Health and Retirement Study.


They found 93 percent of the chronically ill older adults had adult children, but for half of them, the children lived more than 10 miles away.

The study, published in the journal Chronic Illness, suggests the barrier of distance needs to be overcome so chronically ill patients can be monitored and supported by family members.

John D. Piette, a senior scientist with the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, and colleagues at the University of Michigan colleagues developed “Care Partners” — a telephone monitoring system where family members can be involved in the care of a relative with heart failure, diabetes, depression or undergoing chemotherapy through e-mail alerts and automated phone calls.

“The challenges facing chronically ill patients are enormous,” Piette says. “We need a recognition that for many patients ‘self’ management is a misnomer, since their disease care is actually shared by their family and broader social network.”

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