Diversity in Family Caregiving Experiences During Late Life
The population of older adults is increasing in diversity as well as in size. This symposium of four related presentations will highlight various family caregiving configurations and experiences. The first paper will highlight the issues related to employment and elder care, as the majority of care providers balance work and caregiving responsibilities. In a national sample, 73% of caregivers were employed outside of the home and about two-thirds had lost work time as a result of caregiving demands (National Alliance for Caregiving, 2009). Other research has specifically addressed the stresses that employed care providers experience as they balance family and labor force roles and responsibilities (Koerin & Secret,2008; Lyonette & Yardley, 2006). This presentation will analyze service use and socio-demographic variables that are associated with stressful outcomes of care.
The remaining presentations will analyze various family care configurations. The second paper in the symposium reports on a study of families who provide care to an older adult who is depressed. Depression is one of the two most prevalent mental health conditions of later life, impacting an estimated 15% of individuals over age 65 (Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, 2011). Depression of the care recipient can lead to additional responsibilities in care, and add to the amount of time spent in care provision (Langa et al., 2004). The third presentation also explores depression, but this study focuses on caregivers of older adults with severe mental illness(SMI). With this subpopulation of older adults expected to double by 2030 (Cohen, 2003), additional understanding of this caregiving experience is required. The current study reports on predictors of depression in caregivers of older adults with SMI.
The final paper reports on cross – national trends in caregiving for adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities. This presentation synthesizes research on family caregiving issues in the US, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. Data about patterns of family care and, impact of care on family functioning, will be reported across multiple studies.
In the discussion, implications for practice and policy will be addressed. Related to the conference theme, social justice issues will be summarized. Finally, the stakes for families and society will be discussed if these important societal issues continue to be neglected.