More than 6 million people in the US live with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD), and more than 16 million family members provide the bulk of their care. In rural areas, where caregivers already have difficulty accessing health and support services because of health disparities, COVID-19-related isolation is exacerbating the intense responsibilities of these unpaid caregivers and potentially contributing to their stress, anxiety, depression and physical health.
To address the symptoms of these caregivers, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the Southwest Health Equity Research Collaborative (SHERC), a grant-funded initiative of Northern Arizona University’s Center for Health Equity Research (CHER), received a one-year, $250,000 administrative supplemental grant from the National Institutes of Health. The researchers will study the unique needs of caregivers of persons with ADRD living in northern Arizona, identifying how health and caregiver support resources have changed during COVID-19 and how family caregivers are coping with current COVID-19 related caregiving demands.
“We are interested in the health of diverse caregivers in northern Arizona and the resources they use and need to maintain their physical, emotional and mental well-being,” said NAU Regents’ Professor Julie Baldwin, principal investigator of the study and director of CHER. “Our long-term goal is to develop programs that provide support to caregivers and reflect the unique assets of populations in northern Arizona.”
Co-investigators on the study are Heather J. Williamson, assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, Michael J. McCarthy, associate professor in the Department of Social Work, Dorothy J. Dunn, associate professor in the School of Nursing and Evie Garcia, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology.
To conduct the study, titled “A Multilevel Examination of Health Equity among Ethnic and Rural ADRD Caregivers,” the researchers are currently recruiting family caregivers of individuals with ADRD to participate in focus groups and surveys.
The team will produce a report on the healthcare and social support resources that are available to caregivers in northern Arizona, and participants will receive personalized maps and information on what resources are close to them. Researchers will use results from the project to inform culturally based programs for Hispanic/Latino, Native American and rural caregivers and to promote future policies, practices and research initiatives that support them.
“We hope that community members will find these county-specific reports of caregiver resources helpful as a tool to either advocate for resources that are lacking and to know what things are available to them that they might not have known about previously,” Williamson said.
If you are a family caregiver of someone with ADRD living in northern Arizona (in Apache, Navajo, Coconino, Gila, Yavapai or Mohave County) and want to participate in a focus group or survey or both, please contact Rachel Bacon at Rachel.Bacon@nau.edu or (928) 523-5794. For more information visit the ADRD project page.
The project is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (3U54MD012388-03S1).