Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Families providing informal care for loved ones face challenges with aging population expansion, shrinking families, and rising health care costs. Analysts predict a doubling of the aging population in the next half century, while concurrent decreasing birth rates propose a future mismatch of family caregiving resources. Similar trends are expected for the state of Vermont. With the majority of aging adults living in rural areas, an estimated 64,000 informal caregivers provide between 64 and 69 million hours of care annually, at an estimated market value of $683 million dollars. Partnering with families to provide care within these constraints will necessitate understanding the impact of caregiving from the family perspective. Role theory posits the experience of caregiving is influenced by personal and external resources. The purpose of this research was to investigate which variables produce strain or facilitate well-being within the rural informal caregiving role by investigating five identified domains: a) disrupted schedule, b) financial problems, c) lack of family support, d) health problems, and e) caregiver self-esteem. The previously validated Caregiver Reaction Assessment was distributed by six Vermont agencies serving rural elders to solicit subjective experiences to caregiving through a one-time survey. When working with families, practitioners need to be sensitive to the dynamics of the caregiving relationship. The results of this study promote the understanding of variables influencing the caregiving role for rural Vermonters. Findings identified the domain of „disrupted schedule‟ as the most impacted by assuming the caregiving role. The advance practice nurse can use these findings to advocate for families through barrier identification, education and resource allocation.