December 2002
Volume 43, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2002
A Comparison of Costs of Informal Caregivers Between the Visually Impaired and Unimpaired Elderly in the US
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Y-CT Shih
    MEDTAP International Inc Bethesda MD
  • SP Lustig
    Outcomes Research Dept Pfizer Global Research Groton CT
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships    Y.T. Shih, Pfizer Inc. F; S.P. Lustig, Pfizer Inc. E. Grant Identification: Pfizer
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science December 2002, Vol.43, 880. doi:
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      Y-CT Shih, SP Lustig; A Comparison of Costs of Informal Caregivers Between the Visually Impaired and Unimpaired Elderly in the US . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2002;43(13):880.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract: : Purpose: To examine the impacts of visual impairment (VI) on costs associated with informal caregivers in the U.S. elderly population. Methods: Informal caregivers are individuals who provided uncompensated care for their families and/or friends. We used data from the "helper" file in the Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD) Wave I, a biennial prospective panel data collected for noninstitutionalized persons aged 70 and over between 1993 and 1994. The file collected information on time spent by the informal caregivers (e.g., frequency of care per week, hours spent per day); this information was combined with hourly wage rates to calculate costs associated with informal care. VI was approximated by those who reported poor eyesight or legally blind in a self-reported health condition question. Multivariate regression models were used to evaluate the impacts of VI on informal care-givers' costs while accounting for confounding factors such as demographics and comorbidities. Results: Use of informal caregivers was found in 64.2% of the visually impaired group, almost three times that of the visually unimpaired group (22.88%). On average, the visually impaired group received 20.52 hours of care weekly from informal caregivers, compared with a weekly average of 5.30 hours in the visually unimpaired group. The estimated monthly cost associated with informal caregivers was $980 for the visually impaired and $253 for the visually unimpaired. Using the logarithm of monthly costs as the dependent variable, results from multivariate regression analysis showed that after controlling for demographics (i.e., age, gender, race), geographic regions, and comorbidities (i.e., having diabetes, cancer, heart problems, etc.), the average cost of informal caregivers for the visually impaired was almost four times as high as that of the visually unimpaired. Conclusion: VI was associated with higher informal caregivers' costs among the elderly in community settings. Our study indicated that the marginal effect of VI on costs of informal care was higher than many other health problems commonly seen in the elderly, such as diabetes, arthritis, urinary incontinence, and chronic lung disease.

Keywords: 351 clinical (human) or epidemiologic studies: health care delivery/economics/manpower • 625 visual impairment: neuro-ophthalmological disease • 309 aging 

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