Mary Ann Franks, MPH, Public Health Communications Associate
The International Association for Indigenous Aging (IA2) announces a grant project funded by the CDC Foundation. The grant supports a rapid implementation direct service project developed in partnership with HFC and the University of North Dakota’s National Resource Center for Native American Aging (NRCNAA).
“We’ve watched the COVID-19 crisis devastate families in tribal and urban American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Pre-existing health disparities, inequities in social determinants of health, and access barriers for Native peoples quickly evolved into higher case rates, hospitalization rates, and disproportionate and unnecessary deaths due to COVID-19,” according to Dave Baldridge IA2 executive director.
Through two innovative partnerships, IA2 will expand best practices for caregiving and provide direct support for respite care to tribal and urban Native communities nationally. The goals of the IA2 initiative are to 1) enhance tribal services and expand the capacity of tribal nations and communities to respond to the needs of elders and their caregivers, and 2) offer direct respite and caregiver support to tribal elders and their family members affected by COVID-19.
IA2 and its partners acknowledge that American Indian and Alaska Native elders and their caregivers have suffered and continue to suffer disproportionately within the population because of COVID-19 shutdowns in their communities. Social isolation, physical and mental decline, need for respite care, and direct impacts on caregivers were all cited in NORC formative research supported by the CDC Foundation. These issues resonate strongly with ongoing discussions with tribal and federal partners, IHS and IA2 listening sessions, and direct discussions with elders and tribal staff. Just as the vaccine was beginning to offer a glimmer of hope, the current trajectory of rapidly increasing COVID-19 case rates has resulted in many tribal senior and meal centers pausing and re-evaluating opening.
“Tribal healthcare providers, community health representatives, public health, and Title VI aging services programs have provided a literal lifeline in tribal communities. Often these folks have been the only source of food, medical supplies, water, or mental and physical health support for elders stranded in their homes as agencies and clinics have shuttered,” says Dr. Jolie Crowder, Senior Director for IA2.
IA2 will partner with HFC (formerly Hilarity for Charity) to fund 25 “Recharge Respite Grants” of $1250 each (50 hours) for American Indian and Alaska Native families. These grants do not require a formal diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Both IA2 and HFC recognize the significant barriers to diagnosing dementia and Alzheimer’s in Indian countries. Starting in mid-September a pilot of online support groups will be rolled out. Support groups are designed for American Indian and Alaska Native families and care partners for people living with memory loss or other cognitive issues or dementia-like symptoms. IA2 is working in partnership with HFC to identify a Native or Native-serving licensed support group facilitator(s) to train to manage online support groups.
Through a standing relationship with Home Instead, HFC provides aid and relief to those serving as caregivers to their loved ones living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The Senior Director of Program Strategy and Development at HFC, Alexandra Villano shares, “This initiative, designed to address needs for a single minority population specifically, is the first of its kind for HFC. We have years of experience providing respite grants and more recent experience hosting online caregiver support groups, though never enough resources to meet the huge demand for help. The respite grants give family caregivers the ability to do important things like continue to work, grocery shop, go to medical appointments, or even take a moment to themselves. We’ve learned that caregivers are the strongest when cared for themselves.”
The National Resource Center on Native American Aging (NRCNAA) team, led by Dr. Collette Adamsen, will train tribal Community Health Representatives and aging services staff on their Native Elder Caregiver Curriculum (NECC). The curriculum is notably one of only two interventions specific to the American Indian caregivers. Curriculum development was guided by work with local tribal communities and mindfulness of the historically rich traditions and strengths of American Indians. IA2 will collaborate with NRCNAA to bring 8-hour interactive training on the NECC to tribal staff virtually and in person. They will also finalize work on an online family caregiver training module. The online module is undergoing revisions to enhance accessibility and incorporate adult learning principles.
To learn more about the Respite Care grants (available now) or apply, click here.
To learn more or submit your interest in participating in Online Support groups for caregivers of people living with memory or other cognitive issues, click here.
To apply for the Online Caregiver Support Group Facilitator click here
Visit the IA2 website in September to learn more about the Native Elder Caregiver Curriculum training.
IA2 is a 501(c)3 non-profit education association with a majority Native board focused on improving the health and well-being of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and other indigenous peoples as they move through the aging spectrum. www.iasquared.org
HFC is a national non-profit whose mission is to care for families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, inspire Alzheimer’s advocates, and lead brain health research and education. https://wearehfc.org or firstname.lastname@example.org
NRCNAA is committed to identifying Native Elder health and social issues. Through education, training, and technical assistance, they assist in developing community-based solutions to improve the quality of life and delivery of related support services to the Native aging population. https://www.nrcnaa.org/