Without a doubt, being a family caregiver can be incredibly rewarding — and extraordinarily tough. Today, millions of Americans act as the primary caregiver for a loved one who is aging or who has a disability, and pursuant to Section 371 of the Older Americans Act, the Iowa Department on Aging administers the Iowa Family Caregiver Support Program to assist the 350,000+ Iowans who assume that role each year.
Components of the Family Caregiver Support Program
Each year, the Department distributes funds to the Area Agencies on Aging to employ family caregiver specialists who provide the following services to family caregivers (including grandparents and older adults who are relative caregivers):
Information & Assistance
Information about services available to help caregivers in their role (e.g., chore services, home-delivered meals, adult day care)
Assistance in identifying service needs
Referrals to local service providers
Counseling & Education
Counseling/personal assistance to help caregivers sort through challenges and identify possible solutions
Organization of peer support groups
Caregiver training to to assist caregivers in the areas of health, nutrition and financial literacy, and in making decisions and solving problems relating to caregiving roles
Respite Care Services
Information about respite care services to temporarily relieve caregivers from their caregiving responsibilities
Assistance in finding resources to pay for respite care
Benefits to Older Iowans
The Family Caregiver Program works to provide family caregivers with the resources they need to enhance and extend their ability to care for a loved one over a long period of time. Data from the Administration on Aging's national surveys of caregivers of older adults shows services provided through the Family Caregiver Support Program are effective in helping caregivers keep their loved ones at home; 77% of caregivers report that services definitely enabled them to provide care longer than otherwise would have been possible; 89% of caregivers reported that services helped them to be a better caregiver; and nearly half of the caregivers of nursing home-eligible care recipients indicated that the care recipient would be unable to remain at home without the support services.