Objectives: This study examines different combinations of informal and formal care use of older adults and investigates whether these combinations differ in terms of need for care (physical and psychological frailty) and enabling factors for informal and formal care use (social and environmental frailty).
Methods: Using cross-sectional data from the Belgian Ageing Studies (survey, N = 38,066 community-dwelling older adults), Latent Class Analysis (LCA) is used to identify combinations of informal and formal care use. Bivariate analyses are used to explore the relationship between the different combinations of care use and frailty.
Results: Latent Class Analysis (LCA) identified 8 different types of care use, which vary in combinations of informal and formal caregivers. Older adults who are more likely to combine care from family and care from all types of formal caregivers are more physically, psychologically and environmentally frail than expected. Older adults who are more likely to receive care only from nuclear family, or only from formal caregivers are more socially frail than expected.
Conclusions: Older adults with a higher need for care are more likely to receive care from different types of informal and formal caregivers. High environmental frailty and low social frailty are related with the use of care from different types of informal and formal caregivers. This study confirms that informal care can act as substitute for formal care. However, this substitute relationship becomes a complementary relationship in frail older adults. Policymakers should take into account that frailty in older adults affects the use of informal and formal care.