Gender, kinship and caregiver burden: the case of community-dwelling memory impaired seniors

Neale R Chumbler, James W Grimm, Marisue Cody, Cornelia Beck
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2003, 18 (8): 722-32

BACKGROUND: This study examined whether there were gender and kinship (spouse, child, more distant relative) differences in caregiver burden. It further examined the constellation of gender and kinship by examining whether adult daughter caregivers experienced greater burden compared to wives, husbands, sons, and other more distant relatives.

METHODS: The sample consisted of 305 family caregivers of memory-impaired individuals who were age 70 years or older and resided in non-institutional settings in Arkansas. A cross-sectional design was employed using validated measures to assess both the memory-impaired elders' and family caregivers' self-reported physical and memory status.

RESULTS: After controlling for the age and health status characteristics of the memory-impaired elder, sociodemographic and health status characteristics of the family caregiver, and the caregiver coping response (measured by the sense of coherence), multiple regression analyses found kinship, but not gender differences in caregiver burden. Adult children experienced more caregiver burden than more distant relatives. There were no significant differences in caregiver burden between adult children and spouses. Adult daughters had greater caregiver burden scores compared to more distant relatives, but had comparable scores to wives, sons, and husbands. Other significant correlates of burden included caregiver personal characteristics (age and ethnicity) and the sense of coherence.

CONCLUSIONS: The study discusses the practice implications of adult children and adult daughters' propensity to suffer burden when caring for their memory-impaired parents living in the community. It also discusses the relevance of caregiver personal characteristics and the sense of coherence as correlates of burden.

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