A Compendium of Intervention and Descriptive Studies Designed to Promote the Health of Caregivers for Older Adults. Making the Link Program


Sponsor. Administration on Aging.

Purpose. This nationally developed, locally implemented program is designed to raise awareness among physicians about three issues: (1) caregiving can take a toll on the health of caregivers, (2) caregivers are an important part of the health care team, and (3) services to support caregivers and ease their burden are available in the local community through local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and Title VI-Native American aging programs.

Description. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging's (N4A) Making the Link Program has brought together two distinct but complementary systems--the aging network and health care providers--to benefit family caregivers across the United States. The goals of this program are to strengthen the ability of individual AAAs and Title VI grantees to serve family caregivers through a local, state, and national campaign. The campaign has two aims: (1) to involve physicians more actively in identifying caregivers and referring them to National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFSCP) services, and (2) to promote within the local medical community the concept that caregiving is a public health issue and increase awareness of the important health care role of family caregivers.24

Approximately 100 AAAs and Title VI grantees are providing information about caregivers and caregiver services to their local physicians. This information has been developed by N4A based on input from an advisory board comprising major medical association representatives, individuals from agencies with an interest in public health, and caregiver advocates. The tools provided to medical care providers include information on caregiver health, available community services, and a caregiver self-assessment questionnaire developed by the American Medical Association.25 N4A also is conducting a national awareness campaign for physicians, designed to focus on caregiving as a health care issue.

The following organizations have agreed to participate in the program: American Medical Association, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Geriatrics Society, American Association of Medical Society Executives, National Medical Association, American Project Access Network, Indian Health Service, National Alliance for Caregiving, the Families and Health Care Project at the United Hospital Fund, Health Resources and Services Administration, and representatives of AAA and Title VI programs. The American Academy of Family Physicians and the National Health Care Council will also join in the national awareness campaign.

Results to Date. The AoA grant began in October 2002. Caregiver health and educational materials have been developed, physician partners have been identified, and materials have been disseminated through the AAAs to partnering medical offices. The goal for the first grant year is for each AAA to have seven medical offices actively participating in the program.24 A national media campaign has been developed and various national advisory board members are currently commenting on draft materials. The project will continue through September 2004.

Next Steps. Project staff will continue to develop and maintain relationships with medical office staff, following up with providers and visiting them on a regular basis. Information used by medical offices will be tracked and replenished throughout the program. Referrals from medical offices to AAA offices will also be tabulated and reported. Individual sites and advisory group members will continue to work with N4A to refine media materials to promote the program at the state and local levels.

Contact Person.

Adrienne Dern
Making the Link Program Director
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
927 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 296-8130
Email: adern@n4a.org
Website address: http://www.n4a.org

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