Caregiving in Later Life: A Contextual Approach to the Provision of Care

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Guided by the life course perspective, this study examined the frequency of caregiving provided by older adults to kin and non-kin. A telephone survey produced a random sample of adults 60 years of age and older, which was predominantly White, with higher income and education levels (n = 278). Bivariate and multivariate analyses tested the impact of demographic characteristics and other variables, conceptualized as physical, human, and social capital, on the frequency of caregiving. Gender, age, health, limitations, education, income, household composition, social contact, and reciprocity were analyzed in multinomial logistic regressions. Caregiving was defined as care provided to sick ... continued below

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Worthen, Laura T. August 2003.

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  • Worthen, Laura T.

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Description

Guided by the life course perspective, this study examined the frequency of caregiving provided by older adults to kin and non-kin. A telephone survey produced a random sample of adults 60 years of age and older, which was predominantly White, with higher income and education levels (n = 278). Bivariate and multivariate analyses tested the impact of demographic characteristics and other variables, conceptualized as physical, human, and social capital, on the frequency of caregiving. Gender, age, health, limitations, education, income, household composition, social contact, and reciprocity were analyzed in multinomial logistic regressions. Caregiving was defined as care provided to sick or disabled persons, with frequency of providing care classified as often, sometimes, and never. The majority of older adults provided at least some care to others over a one-year period, with almost one-third doing so often and only one-quarter never doing so. Most provided care to more than one person, with over one-quarter providing care to multiple friends only. Age failed to predict caregiving involvement when physical and social capital variables were considered. The odds of often providing care are higher for women, although gender did not predict those who never provided care. Having at least some college only significantly predicted women who often provided care. Living with a disabled person increased the frequency of caregiving, although that care was not always for the disabled person. Similarly, living with a spouse, as compared to living alone, increased caregiving involvement but often the spouse was not the care recipient. These findings highlight a need for policy changes that will support and recognize the contributions of older caregivers of both family and friends. The definition of caregiving is another policy issue that should be addressed. These findings also challenge policymakers and community leaders to promote informal caregiving by providing educational programs to enhance and better utilize the talents, abilities, and altruistic concerns of older caregivers.

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  • August 2003

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  • Feb. 15, 2008, 2:56 p.m.

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  • May 27, 2008, 8:59 a.m.

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Worthen, Laura T. Caregiving in Later Life: A Contextual Approach to the Provision of Care, dissertation, August 2003; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4246/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .