Domestic helpers as moderators of spousal caregiver distress

Alice M L Chong, Chi Wai Kwan, Iris Chi, Vivian W Q Lou, Angela Y M Leung
Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 2014, 69 (6): 966-72

OBJECTIVES: Although domestic helpers increasingly play a role in elder care in many societies, there is a lack of research on their influence on caregiver distress. This study aimed to examine the influence of domestic helpers on the relationship between stressors (the care needs of frail elders and spousal provision of care) and spousal caregivers' psychological distress.

METHOD: This study was a secondary analysis of cross-sectional data collected between 2007 and 2009 from 6,442 Hong Kong adults aged 60 or older who were applying for government-subsidized long-term care services and whose spouses were their primary caregivers. Among the spousal caregivers, 73.04% were women, 44.16% felt distressed, and 5.73% were assisted by domestic helpers.

RESULTS: According to logistic regression analysis, spousal caregivers who provided personal care related to activities of daily living were more likely to be distressed if they were not assisted by domestic helpers.

DISCUSSION: The findings suggest that domestic help may moderate the effect of stressors on spousal caregivers. Domestic helpers provide support not just to frail older adults but also to spousal caregivers. Further studies are recommended to explore the precise effect of domestic help on family caregivers, care receivers, and the caregiving process.

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