U.S. data for the study came from 4,583 community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries aged 75 and older. The Swedish data came from 1.378 people aged 75 and older living in community housing.
The researchers found that more than one-fifth of the Americans surveyed had at least one instrumental ADL (IADL) need for which they received no help; more than two-fifths of the Americans had at least one personal ADL (PADL) need for which they received no help and almost three fifths of the Americans had either an IADL or PADL need for which they received no help. In all cases, the level of unmet need among Swedish elders was less than four percent.
Shea says, "Baby boomers who are assisting their parents or preparing for their own retirement need to be aware of the consequences of current national health care policy. We direct very few of our public resources towards providing help with these needs out in the community."
Some U.S. states have moved their support into more Swedish-style, long-term, community-based services. Shea plans a new study to see if those states have lower levels of unmet need.