The Relationship Between Social Services And Family Care
The family is widely seen as an elderly person’s first line of defense against the risks associated with advanced age. Family members provide a tremendous amount of care for older Americans, a situation that both the elderly and their families generally prefer over professional care. Given the importance of family care, and the high cost of professional services, policy-makers and researchers in the field have been concerned about the possibility that public social services might replace family care.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that social services do not replace family care. Indeed, professional assistance may even enhance a family’s ability to provide care. Respite care is probably the best example of this. When family caregivers have access to respite care they often report being able to give more and better care to their loved ones. Similar results have been obtained with case management, personal care, and homemaker services. Despite the lack of evidence that services displace family care, this concern arises frequently when funding for social services is up for debate.
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