Tennessee Voters: Yes to Caregiver Support, Aging in Place, and Quality Nursing Homes
Tennessee Voter Survey on Long-Term Care
Tennesseans age 50-plus show widespread backing for policies that support family caregivers, help people age in place, improve remote health care, and ensure quality at long-term care facilities, new research shows.
An AARP phone survey of about 1,000 voters in the state conducted in late 2021 revealed deep concerns on these issues — amplified for many by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For long-term care, 81% of respondents said they'd rather stay at home with some form of support than move to a nursing home. To that end, a large majority of Tennessee voters favor more services and funding to enable living in the community as long as possible, AARP finds.
The survey results also reflect an awareness of the toll that unpaid family caregiving can have on people caring for a loved one and the need for more sustainable supports. About half of family caregivers in Tennessee who are age 50 and older also hold down a job. Nearly three out of four respondents say their responsibilities have caused emotional stress. And one in three say they've experienced financial strain from caregiving, with transportation by far the most commonly cited expense.
While 37% of caregivers spent more time caring for their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, 61% said the role was also more emotionally draining than usual. Women are more likely to have ever been caregivers (53%) than men (35%) and report more stress than male caregivers.
Recognizing the challenges of caregiving, 81% of Tennessee voters surveyed indicate they support policies that require employers to provide limited unpaid leave to employee caregivers and prohibit their firing for taking time off. Another 73% were in favor of paid leave for family caregivers. The AARP survey shows that most Tennesseans age 50-plus support proposals that increase funding for programs that offer respite care so caregivers can take a break from their responsibilities.
Quality care at nursing homes proved to be an important issue almost universally, with 97% of respondents considering it extremely or very important that facility residents receive such care. About three-quarters feel strongly about having a task force to evaluate and make recommendations about quality care, AARP reports. Another 89% favor more money for the ombudsman program that investigates complaints in long-term care facilities, and 90% of Tennessee voters believe long-term care facility workers should receive a living wage. Those policies received more support among Democrats than Republicans or independents.
The AARP poll in Tennessee also touched on views about technology, finding that about half (53%) of respondents feel extremely or very comfortable with technology and one-quarter (24%) feel somewhat comfortable. Ease with tech varied by age. While 66% of those ages 50 to 64 feel extremely or very comfortable with technology, just 39% of those age 65 and older feel the same. Still, most older adults are active online with eight in ten respondents reporting they have access to the internet at home.
As for technology and health care, the AARP survey revealed bipartisan support on policies for virtual visitation in nursing homes, telehealth services for medical care, and funding for technology to ensure that patient information remains secure.
The AARP research was conducted October 20–November 9, 2021. The sample, provided by Aristotle International, was of voters ages 50-plus registered to vote in Tennessee. Landlines and cell phones were used to contact 1,001 people and the data were weighted by age and gender.
For more information, please contact Laura Mehegan at firstname.lastname@example.org. For media inquiries, contact External Relations at email@example.com.
Mehegan, Laura. 2021 Tennessee Long-Term Care Survey. Washington, DC: AARP Research, March 2022. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00527.001
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