New article on Native Caregivers by OMO Governing Body member Dave Baldridge and OMO Health Data Task Force member Mario Garrett. The article “Family Caregivers Declining for American Indians, Alaska Natives” was published in Aging Today, a publication of the American Society on Aging.

See below for an excerpt and click here to read the full article.

With the rapid aging of the U.S. population, American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities face many of the same concerns as the rest of the nation, such as the diminishing size of families, which traditionally have provided informal assistance to older adults.

As of mid-2002, U.S. Census data show more than 4.3 million AI/AN people in the United States, comprising 1.5% of the total population. Overall, Al/ANs have higher rates of mortality and morbidity from heart disease, injuries, cancer and diabetes. Also, rates in AI/AN populations of these and other conditions, such as communicable diseases, infant mortality and kidney disease, exceed those of the general population.

DISTINCT COMMUNITIES

In addition, AI/AN people have long maintained separate and distinct lands. Within these mostly small and independent geographic areas, the aging of populations can have devastating results. For example, our research shows that some AI/AN communities already have no potential caregivers available.

Older adults in AI/AN communities have always depended heavily on their families for care. This system seems to have functioned well in the past, contributing to the belief that AI/ANS are stoic figures who do not need assistance and can take care of their own elders. However, some researchers have concluded that the reason caregivers in these populations performed so well with fewer health problems was because AI/AN caregivers tended to be younger than those in the broader population. This advantage will be lost if there are fewer younger AI/ANS-and, therefore, fewer caregivers-available to look after an increasing number of chronically frail older adults in the local population.

Although families remain the primary providers of long-term care services to older adults for all races and ethnicities, AI/AN communities exhibit changing dynamics, which will further affect their families’ capacity to provide care in the future. Identifying these dynamics is important because if caregivers-especially those in small communities-are less available, it behooves local planners to search for alternative ways to meet the needs of their frail and disabled older adult constituents.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 30th, 2009 at 7:01 pm and is filed under OMO Governing Body, Resources. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.