One way to maximize informal caregivers’ caregiving capacity may be to expand the supply of affordable, reliable homemaking support services.

Market research analysts at Northwestern Mutual uncovered a possible homemaking services supply gap recently when they organized three different surveys in observance of this month’s Long Term Care Awareness Month outreach campaign.

One of the surveys reached a sample of 899 U.S. adults who identified themselves as either currently providing unpaid care for one or more adults or having provided care for one or more adults in the past.

The survey team found evidence that the experienced caregivers may have been substantially more likely to have provided homemaker services, such as grocery shopping, cleaning, or cooking, than they were to have provided personal care services.

Only 62 percent of the experienced caregivers had helped the care recipients with personal hygiene. Just 19 percent had been responsible for hiring professional caregivers.

But 76 percent had helped with transportation, and 76 percent had helped with laundry.

Seventy-eight percent had helped with cooking, 79 percent with cleaning, and 86 percent with grocery shopping.

See also: LTC service contracts

Traditionally, insurers and long-term care (LTC) planners have scoffed at the idea of older people using stand-alone long-term care insurance (LTCI) as “maid service insurance,” but Medicare already provides some homemaker services for enrollees who are getting hospice benefits.

See also: 17 more Medicare facts you need to know