Magazine article Work & Family Life

What's Working for Caregivers (and What's Not)

Magazine article Work & Family Life

What's Working for Caregivers (and What's Not)

Article excerpt

For the past six years, I have conducted an in-depth survey of family caregivers to get a handle on what's working in their lives and what's not. Which community services are useful? Who has been most helpful? What do they need more of?

Caregivers can learn a lot from the experiences and insights of others, and the survey also gives health care professionals a better understanding of the family caregiver perspective.

The latest findings

Our 2001 Caregiver Survey found that home health agencies, nursing homes, support groups and the local Area Agency on Aging were the most-- used community services. Finding affordable help was the most difficult aspect of caregiving.

Given the lack of affordable help, caregivers reported relying heavily on family and friends. Home health agency staff, physicians and support group members were way down the list.

What struck me about the latest survey results is how little has changed over the past six years in terms of what caregivers say they need more of from their communities: transportation, support groups and counseling services.

Connectivity on the rise

One big change, however, is the rising dependence of family caregivers on the Internet, both as an "escape" from their role as caregiver and for support and information about caregiving. For example, at www.caregiving.com we have six support groups, and there's a new site, www.benefitscheckup.org that searches for services a care recipient may qualify to receive.

What the caregivers are saying

One feature of our survey gives caregivers an opportunity to put their experiences into words. …

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