By Liza Berger, Staff Writer
Indeed, social, behavioral, and attitudinal norms in rural
communities may prevent people who need care from receiving it.
Many caregivers in remote areas feel they should be
self-reliant. There is a sense of individual responsibility
involved in caring for a sick loved one—even if it may prove to
be too overwhelming.
This reluctance to seek help as well as a lack of community
resources, outlets and support in rural communities may compound
the problem of isolation—a universal issue for caregivers.
“Some stories about rural caregivers are very sad in terms of
a caregiver, usually the spouse of the person with
Alzheimer’s, who’s alone and feels that he or she can’t leave
the person at all and that there are no options,” Maslow noted.
It can be dangerous anywhere in the country to have a person
with Alzheimer’s living at home. Wandering is a common symptom
among those with the disease. But the presence of guns in many
rural homes is especially worrisome in cases of people with
Alzheimer’s who may be living there, according to Maslow.
As many challenges as there are in caring for a loved one
with Alzheimer’s in a rural community, state and federal
resources are available. The Alzheimer’s Association, in
partnership with the Administration on Aging (AoA), has a
helpline that provides round-the-clock information and referral
sources. Such indirect services, rather than direct in-home
services provided by paid direct care workers, are often the
only support available to family caregivers.
Meanwhile, the AoA’s Alzheimer’s Disease Supportive Services
Program helps caregivers around the country. It provides
competitive awards to states to expand the availability of
community-level supportive services for people with Alzheimer’s
and related disorders and their caregivers. The Public Health
Service Act created ADSSP in 1992.
There are several ADSSP programs that directly affect rural
caregivers, explained Shannon Skowronski, a health policy
analyst with the Alzheimer’s Disease Supportive Services Program
National Resource Center.