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Rural Caregiver

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Rural Caregivers Living in Shadowland
By Hilary Gibson, Staff Writer
(Page 3 of 3)

In general, when it comes to rural healthcare and remembering the caregiver, it has been just “assumed” since there is a strong feeling of “family” among the rural people, there will always be someone to take care of a person in need, as well as provide respite care for the caregiver. Today, most families have one or two relatives, at-the-most, who live close enough to help with the caregiving, proving that what is really known about the rural caregiver is nothing more than something between myth and wishful thinking. Most policy-makers think that the cost of living in a rural area is low, but they forget about hidden costs such as transportation. While rural areas are thought of as beautiful and idyllic places to reside, the fact of isolation and the lack of public transportation, plus limited resources make this a less-than-perfect place if you are in need of respite or medical attention.

Providing free training sessions at the nearest church or school, along with free respite care and transportation would be a great first-step to improving the life of a rural caregiver. Make no mistake about it, though… rural caregivers don’t spend their time feeling sorry for themselves. They are of hardy stalk, and have a true independent spirit, which makes it difficult for them to feel comfortable asking for the help and assistance they need and deserve. All the more reason why we should be taking care of what has always been thought to be the “backbone” of this country. Shame on us all if they are to remain invisible and forgotten in a “shadowland.”

Rural Assistance Strategies

  • rural caregivers need social and emotional support

  • needs assessments for caregivers must be done  and encouraged

  • providing financial assistance for health care expenses

  • encourage and promote supportive work environments (flex time)

  • understand that family support and help is not always available for caregivers

  • create rural caregiver support groups

  • improve access to community services

  • improve visibility of community service providers

  • make funding available for support services and  institutional care

  • tend to the health needs of the caregiver

  • recognize caregiving as work and provide financial compensation

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