October 21, 2022

5 Questions w/ NYSOFA's Deana Prest: Caring for Loved Ones

5 Questions w/ NYSOFA's Deana Prest: Caring for Loved Ones

Deana Prest has more than 22 years of policy and practical experience aimed at improving the lives of older New Yorkers and their caregivers. Currently, Deana holds the position of Caregiver Support Program Director at NYSOFA overseeing the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). The NFCSP is administered locally through the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). Deana and her colleagues assist AAAs by providing ongoing guidance, training, and technical assistance for effective programming and service delivery. Additionally, Deana is the project director for New York’s Lifespan Respite Care Program. In this installment of 5 Questions, Deana shares some basic information about caregiving in New York State.

Can you tell us what a “caregiver” is? Studies we’ve seen tell us 54% of those helping an older relative don’t understand the term.

By definition, a caregiver is “an adult family member or another individual, who is an informal provider of in-home and community care to an older individual or to an individual with Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder with neurological and organic brain dysfunction." In simple terms, a caregiver is someone who provides assistance to a person in need. If you run errands, prepare meals, drive loved ones to appointments, and more, you are a caregiver!

What resources does NYSOFA offer for caregivers? How much help is out there?

There are a ton of resources available to support family caregivers. The following resources are available through programs administered by NYSOFA:

  • Information and Assistance
  • Caregiver Counseling
  • Caregiver Support Groups
  • Caregiver Training and Education
  • Respite Care (a short break for a caregiver)
  • Supplemental Services, such as transportation, home modifications, personal emergency response systems, amongst others. These services are meant to be flexible and meet the needs of the individual caregiver.

In order to access these resources, contact your local NY Connects program by visiting NY Connects Information & Assistance specialists will link you to the services and supports that best meet your needs as a caregiver.

Who are the people being helped, and is there an “age” where caregiving typically begins?
There is no “age” where caregiving typically begins. There are caregivers who are 18, caregivers who are 90, and all ages in between. The programs that NYSOFA administers typically serve caregivers who are over the age of 18 and caring for an individual who is over 60, or an individual of any age who has been diagnosed with any type of dementia. Some of our programs also serve caregivers caring for children under the age of 18, as well as caregivers caring for an adult child aged 18-59 with a disability.

If you are a caregiver and don’t fit into any of those categories, our partners at the New York State Caregiving and Respite Coalition serve all caregivers regardless of their age and who they are caring for. To learn more, visit

How does NYSOFA collect data and learn about what help caregivers need?

NYSOFA learns about the needs of caregivers through its Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). Each AAA is required to assess caregivers who contact the AAA for caregiver supports to learn about their needs and preferences. Caregiver demographics are also collected during the assessment. Additionally, the AAAs are required to conduct a public hearing annually to learn about the needs of older adults and their caregivers in its planning and service area.

Also, NYSOFA is currently conducting a survey to learn about the needs of working caregivers. The purpose of the survey is to better inform employers about the specific challenges faced by working caregivers. To learn more about NYSOFA’s Working Caregiver Initiative, please visit

Tell us about Trualta and how people can access it...

Trualta is an evidence-based online caregiver training and support platform that helps family caregivers build skills to manage care at home for loved ones of any age. It also connects to local resources and support services by delivering personalized education, training, and information links. Family caregivers in New York State access the training at Once registered, caregivers can select personalized training and track their progress on topics like self-care, stroke recovery, dementia care, medication management, and more. Users can log-in from any computer, tablet, or smartphone. The training is free to any caregiver in New York State.