This report is a compilation of some promising programs to support, educate, and motivate caregivers of older persons to maintain and improve their health and functioning. We grouped these "case studies" based on whether they were intervention or descriptive studies and provided information on the sponsor, a description of the program and its results to date, any lessons learned or next steps for the project in question, and a contact person.
We described 13 different projects, funded by federal, state, and local governments, and/or by private organizations. Six of the initiatives were intervention studies, and seven of the initiatives involved descriptive studies. Some of the initiatives involved complex, multi-component epidemiologic studies (e.g., the REACH II Initiative and the Caregiver Health Effects Study) with multiple components (including visits to a physician, educational materials, and telephone follow up) and assessments of caregiver health outcomes. Others focused exclusively on the development and dissemination of information and educational materials (e.g., Making the Link and Powerful Tools for Caregivers Program).
Not all studies found caregiver burden to be as broadly deleterious as had been previously thought, but clearly "at risk" populations/subgroups existed to whom special attention is needed. Potential caregiver risk factors identified by study investigators included advanced age, poor caregiver health, having a number of other responsibilities (including work, child care, and other care recipients), caregiver strain, significant care physical/mental health problems of care recipients, caregiver isolation, and lack of social support.
The Health Promotion and Aging project will conclude with the planning and development of a national conference on health promotion and disease prevention for caregivers of older adults. The conference will be held in the fall/winter of 2003 and attended by a number of researchers, governmental officials, and public health professionals from around the country.