November is National Family Caregivers Month, organized by the Caregiver Action Network, recognizing those who provide essential care and medical assistance to a family member or friend with a disability. This support makes it possible for older adults and those with disabilities to live in their homes and communities. While it is rewarding, family caregiving can take at a toll on those who provide care, physically, financially, and emotionally.
Thankfully, there are resources available from research centers, national agencies and organizations, local providers, even tech companies to help caregivers as they provide care to the people they love.
More than 30 current NIDILRR-funded projects are focusing on caregiving and caregivers. Here are some examples of what these projects are developing to support caregivers:
Center for Research, Training, and Dissemination of Family Support for People with Disabilities Across the Life Course is conducting research and training to support caregivers including an mHealth app to self-manage health and wellness and working with local agencies to implement programs for older adults with activity limitation and their caregivers.
The Research and Education to Support the Science of Independent Living for Inclusion and Engagement: National Center of Excellence RRTC is focusing on implementing two programs, the Chicago Parent Program and the CAPABLE program, both improving support services for family supporters.
RERC on Technologies to Support Aging-in-Place for People with Long-Term Disabilities (TechSAge RERC II) is developing and testing technology to monitor and manage falls among wheelchair users. This technology could alert a caregiver to quickly respond to a fall.
Virtual Future Planning (V-FIN) for Adults with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities and Aging Families is developing and testing online version of The Future Is Now, a future planning intervention to help families prepare as caregivers age.
A new project, Increasing Adaptive Babycare Resources and Intervention Supports with Parents and Caregivers with Physical or Vision Disabilities, will focus on solutions for parents and caregivers who have disabilities themselves, including training occupational therapists in adaptive caregiving.
Resources are also available from national centers, local agencies and organizations, and online:
- The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has several programs, councils, and centers, including
- the National Family Caregiver Support Program,
- the Lifespan Respite Care Program,
- the RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council,
- and the Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.
- The Administration on Aging with ACL also supports several programs and services including
- The Eldercare Locator to find local offices and providers and the Caregiver Corner to answer common questions.
- Family Caregiver Alliance is a national organization dedicated to improving quality of life for family caregivers and the people who receive their care.
- Check out their article on Digital Technology for the Family Caregiver
- 211 is a national-wide information and referral service operated by United Way and other nonprofit organizations in collaboration with local and state governments. 211 operators can assist family caregivers in finding assistance in their community. The call is free in the US and Canada (just dial 211) and callers speak with a certified community resource specialist who can help find the right local resources to meet their needs.