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Conclusion

Results from the Caregiver Support Programs Participants Survey provide detailed information that: describes the caregiver population who receive services from NYSOFA/AAA caregiver programs; expands our understanding about the importance of informal caregivers in caring for dependent older adults; and details the value of aging network caregiver support services in New York.

Survey results also yielded detailed information about the patterns and consequences of caregiving by informal caregivers to older adult spouses, parents, parents-in-law, other relatives, and friends. Results found that caregivers using NYSOFA/AAA caregiver support programs and services provide care to care receivers with a relatively high level of impairment and need for support. The survey results also showed that caregiver support services and community resources help caregivers to provide care longer and help to delay or prevent nursing home placement of dependent elders.

Furthermore, the information collected from the survey helps New York to recognize the strengths and effectiveness of the current service delivery system, identify areas for improvement, and develop programs and services to support caregivers to address the consequences of stressful aspects of the caregiving experience. The findings of this survey deepen our understanding about informal caregiving, thereby providing valuable information to help guide public policy-making decisions and actions in New York's efforts to address the needs of caregivers in their vital role.

As greater numbers of older adults live longer and their long term care needs increase, pressure on caregivers will be exacerbated. Caregivers likely will need formal services to supplement the care they provide and support their efforts. Caregiver support programs and home and community-based services have been demonstrated to help keep caregivers from being overburdened, sustain their ability to provide care longer, and delay or prevent their loved ones from entering into a nursing home. The quantitative results from this survey further substantiate this assertion and demonstrate the value of NYSOFA/AAA programs and services in alleviating caregiving burdens and stresses and in assisting caregivers to provide care longer. In addition, many survey respondents made anecdotal comments on how the services helped to reduce their burden, relieve stress, and enable the care receivers to remain at home.

A final note: Because of the increasing importance to be knowledgeable about New York's caregivers and of caregiving issues in order to provide appropriate information and supports, future research topics that would be important to consider include learning more about caregivers of diverse populations including non-English speaking, racial and ethnic minority groups, disabled individuals under the age of 60, and gay and lesbian caregivers. Studies on grandparents and other kin members caring for grandchildren and relatives, and about young caregivers also should be considered in order to understand the issues and challenges faced by these special caregiver populations and develop services and programs to address their needs.