Nav: Home

Older caregivers report worse well-being when providing minimal assistance

January 22, 2019

ANN ARBOR--Providing less than an hour of help to an elderly person can take a surprising emotional toll on older caregivers, says a University of Michigan researcher.

Caregivers 60 and older who provide "marginal" assistance--spending up to an hour helping often with just one activity--report worse well-being than those who help two hours a day handling various activities, according to Vicki Freedman, research professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

Freedman and colleagues said the finding is counterintuitive to well-established thinking that caring for more hours poses a greater psychological burden on family and other unpaid caregivers.

"It may be that these marginally involved caregivers find it harder to incorporate care into their busy lives," Freedman said. "Or it could be those with worse well-being are less able to take on a more substantial caregiving role."

Caregivers perform various tasks such as household chores (preparing meals, laundry), personal and medical care (bathing, dressing, giving medicine), companionship and transportation (running errands or trips to doctor's office).

The U-M study is novel because it considers both what caregivers do and when in the day they do it, Freedman said. Unlike previous research that tracks less granular responses over longer periods, such as the past month, the study uses 24-hour time diary data to explore if there are distinctive care patterns throughout the day affecting caregivers' well-being.

"We were able to see five distinct care patterns, including a large number of days on which caregivers were marginally involved," Freedman said.

Other days consisted of a mixture of care activities for about two hours; more substantial amounts of care, especially with household chores and transportation; and persistent care throughout the day, either with transportation and companionship or with household chores.

The data came from the national Panel Study of Income Dynamics at U-M, which began in 1968 and is the longest running longitudinal household survey in the world. The sample consisted of 511 diary days with at least one reported care activity from adults 60 and older.

For each activity on the previous day, respondents reported details about what they did, including how long they did it. They also responded to questions about how they felt (well-being)--calm, happy, sad, frustrated or worried--during randomly selected activities.

On average, older caregivers spent just over two hours helping on days they assisted adults with daily activities. The time of day was not as important as the type of care in shaping well-being, the researchers said.
-end-
Freedman collaborated on the study, which appears in the current issue of The Gerontologist, with consultant Jennifer Cornman, Boston University professor Deborah Carr and Michigan State University professor Richard Lucas.

Time Use and Experienced Wellbeing of Older Caregivers: A Sequence Analysis: https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/advance-article/doi/10.1093/geront/gny175/5298399

Vicki Freedman: https://www.src.isr.umich.edu/people/vicki-freedman/

University of Michigan

Related Caregivers Articles:

Do ER caregivers' on-the-job emotions affect patient care?
Doctors and nurses in emergency departments at four academic centers and four community hospitals in the Northeast reported a wide range of emotions triggered by patients, hospital resources and societal factors, according to a qualitative study led by a University of Massachusetts Amherst social psychologist.
Self-help groups empower caregivers of children with disabilities
Caregivers in low-income settings will be able to respond to the challenges of bringing up children with disabilities, thanks to a new model created by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
When caregivers need care
People who regularly care for or assist a family member or friend with a health problem or disability are more likely to neglect their own health, particularly by not having insurance or putting off necessary health services due to cost, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association.
Symptoms of depression in caregivers may predict future health problems
Caregivers of stroke survivors who show signs of depression may have a higher risk of suffering their own health challenges down the line, according to research presented today at ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology.
Caregivers of people with dementia are losing sleep
Caregivers of people with dementia lose between 2.5 to 3.5 hours of sleep weekly due to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep -- a negative for themselves and potentially for those in their care, according to Baylor University research published in JAMA Network Open.
Teaching happiness to dementia caregivers reduces their depression, anxiety
Caring for family members with dementia -- which is on the rise in the US -- causes significant emotional and physical stress that increases caregivers' risk of depression, anxiety and death.
Study: Mindfulness may help decrease stress in caregivers of veterans
Caregivers of veterans who engaged in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy found it relieved stress, anxiety and worry, according to a new study led by University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo.
Caring for an older adult with cancer comes with emotional challenges for caregivers, too
Until now, no large study has evaluated whether or not caring for older adults with advanced cancer is linked to caregivers' emotional health or to their quality of life.
Caregivers in Canada need more support
It's time to strengthen support for the 28 percent of people who provide care for an aging family member, friend or neighbor in Canada, argues an editorial in CMAJ.
Older caregivers report worse well-being when providing minimal assistance
Providing less than an hour of help to an elderly person can take a surprising emotional toll on older caregivers, says a University of Michigan researcher.
More Caregivers News and Caregivers Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.