Introduction Resources for Caregiving in Rural Communities

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Estimates suggest that informal caregivers provide the vast majority of all long-term care (80-90%) to family members or close friends who are in need of personal care assistance. 1 This unpaid caregiving has been associated with poor health outcomes, like stress, depression, and a decrease in physical health, particularly for caregivers who lack proper support. 2 Fortunately, these impacts on health can be mitigated by the use of supportive services, 3-5 and services like respite care, education, training, and support groups have been shown to alleviate burden and increase the positive aspects of caregiving. 6,7 Locating available services and supports for caregivers can be difficult, particularly in rural areas where service providers are often more scarce. However, rural areas have older populations and higher disability rates, leading to greater need for caregiv-ing, which makes it urgently important to ensure that rural caregivers are supported. Purpose This policy brief describes resources that are being used across the country to support caregivers in rural communities. A corresponding policy brief, "Perspectives on Care-giving Challenges and Interventions," found that there are many challenges related to caregiving in rural areas, including access to resources like caregiving supports. Approach We reviewed relevant peer-reviewed journal articles; national, state, and local government websites; national, state, and local organizations' websites; and known care-giver resource websites to identify programs providing various forms of support to caregivers in rural areas through local, state, and national initiatives. We also conducted 34 qualitative interviews with 41 key informants representing service providers, academics, advocacy organizations, and many other groups involved with issues related to caregiv-ing and caregiver services. In these interviews, we gathered additional information about specific programs across the country that are available to rural caregivers. We included resources that offer any benefit to caregiv-ers and those interested in supporting caregivers in rural areas. These resources can include programs that impact caregivers directly through training, programs for care recipients (like respite care) that improve daily life for care-givers, or programs that are broader that may be targeted at various organizations who want to improve or expand the services they provide to support caregivers in their rural communities. We also attempted to select resources that are not cost prohibitive to implement. In selecting resources to feature in this policy brief, we focused on those that provide services targeted to caregiv-ers of adults with long-term care needs, particularly those programs available to caregivers in rural areas. While many programs are national in scope, the resources featured here include many that have been implemented in rural communities and states with large rural populations, as well as resources that are available remotely (online or via telephone), thus increasing the accessibility to rural caregivers. This resource guide is not an exhaustive list of available programs and focuses on resources for caregivers of older adults and adults with functional impairments. There are many other organizations that focus on supporting care-givers of other groups of individuals (i.e., children); those resources are not included here. Resources for Caregivers Providing caregivers with proper training, knowledge of resources available to them in their areas, and tools for managing difficult behaviors or their own stress are critical to their success as caregivers and their personal mental and physical health. Programs providing support to caregivers can be run at the state or local governmental level or operated by non-profit, corporate, or faith-based organizations. Supportive services range from providing much-needed respite care to educating caregivers on how to safely provide care. Caregiving support programs are beneficial for caregivers and care recipients alike. Table 1 includes a list of resources complete with a general program description, listed key components of each program, and a link to access additional information.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2018


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