Relations between service and support utilization, problem-solving/ coping strategies, and level of personal burden experienced by younger and older caregivers were examined. Overall, there were no differences in the number of support services received. However, younger caregivers reported significantly more unmet service needs and rated significantly more of them as a critical or an emergency need. Both groups had highly developed effective problem-solving skills. However, older caregivers were more likely to seek spiritual support and the younger caregivers more apt to mobilize their families to acquire and accept help. Older caregivers experienced significantly less personal burden. Results suggest that younger caregivers are more predisposed toward seeking outside help and have higher expectations of the service system.

This study was supported by Cooperative Agreement No. H133B30069 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education, Research and Training Center on Aging with Mental Retardation, Institute on Disability and Human Development (UAP), and the Family Services and Support Project, University of Minnesota. Additional funding was provided by Cooperative Agreement No. H133G20207 from NIDRR, University of Minnesota, Family Services and Support Project, Research and Training Center on Residential Services and Community Living, Institute on Community Integration (UAP). The opinions expressed are those of the authors. The authors thank the families who opened their doors and lives to project staff. We also thank the county mental retardation/developmental disabilities social service agencies, service providers, parent advocacy organizations, and special education directors who helped recruit people for this study.

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