Providing informal care to older people: a comparison of spouses, children and other types of relationships

Marjolein I. Broese van Groenou, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Alice De Boer, Social and Cultural Planning Office of the Netherlands

Spouses and adult children are the most important caregivers to older adults, but the number of other kin and non-kin caregivers is increasing. The three types of caregivers (spouses, children and others) differ considerably in intensity of care provision, motivation, and context of caregiving, but less is known about their differences in caregiver appraisal, i.c. to what degree the caregiving is evaluated as a positive and/or negative experience. Using data from a national sample of Dutch informal caregivers of 1,685 older persons, the study examined to what degree characteristics of the care context, care givers and care receivers are associated with positive and negative appraisal of caregiving. Spouses (N=206) report high positive appraisal and high burden, adult children (N = 1,093) report the lowest level of positive appraisal, and other types of caregivers (N=386) report high positive appraisal and the lowest level of burden. Care context, motives and the availability of help from other sources differed largely among the three types of caregivers. Multivariate linear regression analyses for each of the care relationship types showed that motivational factors and help from other sources were more important for positive appraisal, whereas care context and solistic coping were more associated with burden. Which type of motivation and which type of assistance impacts caregiver appraisal varied by type of care relationship. Only among ‘other’ caregiver relationships, positive appraisal was negatively associated with burden. These results confirm the dual nature of caregiving among spouses and children and the fact that caregiving is merely a positive experience for other types of caregivers.

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Presented in Session 52: Care and support in later life