RICHFIELD— Results of a survey sent out in March by the Six County Area Agency on Aging revealed that fewer services and resources are available for caregivers and care recipients in rural areas than in urban areas.
The survey, conducted by Maria Ricks of Fairview, who earned her master’s degree in gerontology at the University of Utah, was used to identify what information, resources and education are needed to improve the services of the Agency on Aging.
One outgrowth of the survey is a plan to create a Caregiver Advisory Council. The council will be made up of community members invested in supporting caregivers, including representatives from healthcare, assisted living homes, home hospice services and caregivers themselves.
“Having a Caregiver Advisory Council would increase outreach and provide crucial information, training, and education related to caregiving and the caregiver role,” said Brock Jackson, director of the aging agency.
In addition to creating the council, the Area Agency on Aging is forming a class on “Dealing with Dementia” as well as a caregiver class. The classes will be accessible to caregivers who cannot leave their loved ones or have limited access to internet.
Ricks said the results of her survey show that care recipients often cannot pay for services, don’t know where to turn for help, have transportation issues and need emotional support.
The survey was completed by 85 self-identified caregivers with the majority being white, married, female and between the ages of 65 and 74. The care recipients were majority white, married, male and between the ages of 75 and 84.
Since the caregivers are similar in age to the care recipients, both could potentially be dealing with health issues as they age, according to Ricks.
“The survey revealed many caregivers are embarrassed or ashamed that their loved ones have cognitive issues, or that they struggle to care for their own needs,” Ricks said.
“Breaking the stigma of Alzheimer’s Disease is crucial for people reaching out and seeking help. This can be done by openly talking about issues of dementia and dealing with difficult behaviors online, in caregiver classes or publica- tions.”