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Rural Caregiver

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Rural Caregiving
By Liza Berger, Staff Writer

(Page 5 of 7)

Besides a lack of health professionals in rural areas, there are also fewer community resources, such as adult day care centers where people with Alzheimer’s can go during the day for care—and give their caregivers some respite. Many rural communities are limited in fiscal resources and infrastructure to develop their own community-based programs. And in recent years, federal and state governmental support has been scaled back. Caregivers themselves may find the cost of services is too expensive and reimbursement policies are too restrictive.  

Other obstacles caregivers face include a lack of transportation and access to information or help.

Meanwhile, the flight of young people from these communities leaves the burden to spouses, many of whom are old and suffering from health problems themselves. 

“The specific problems are the same for rural caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and other rural caregivers: great distances that are involved, and the lack of services,” Maslow said. “It’s difficult to get services to a person in a rural area. The service provider has to travel a long time or the caregiver has to travel. Some of the services that we rely on in suburban and urban areas aren’t available and can’t be used. In addition, rural areas are generally lower income and [there are] fewer young people so [there is] more difficulty for caregivers. There’s a lack of healthcare, medical care and the kinds of community services people might need.”  

Cultural Barriers

Even if primary care doctors and community services are available, rural caregivers may not seek out this assistance.

A 2001 study, which appeared in the “Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research,” found that just a third of older rural residents with memory problems associated with Alzheimer’s asked their primary-care health provider for help. That compared with half of their urban counterparts.

“The finding that rural inhabitants with memory impairments were less likely to use a primary-care provider for their memory problems is a public health concern, and we certainly need to understand those barriers, which may include stigma, lack of available transportation and denial,” according to Brenda Booth, a University of Arkansas researcher and one of the article’s co-authors.

 

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