Cover: Increased Care Provision and Caregiver Wellbeing

Increased Care Provision and Caregiver Wellbeing

Moderation by Changes in Social Network Care Provision

Published in: The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Volume 79, Issue 5, gbae015 (May 2024). DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbae015

Posted on rand.org May 3, 2024

by Allison Kirkegaard, Esther M. Friedman, Sarah E. Edgington, David P. Kennedy

Objectives

Previous research links increased care provision to worse wellbeing among family and friend caregivers, both before and during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We expand on this by incorporating data on caregivers' social networks and exploring the relationships between own and network changes in care during the pandemic and caregiver wellbeing.

Methods

We use nationally representative data from 1,876 family and friend caregivers in the first wave of our Care Network Connections over Time study (fielded 12/17/2020-1/4/2021) who had provided care continuously since before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Caregivers were asked about the amount of care that they and each member of their social networks were providing at the time of the survey relative to before the pandemic. We use multivariate regression models to examine the associations between five caregiver wellbeing outcomes and changes in care, and explore the moderating role of networks' changes in care.

Results

Among caregivers who had provided care since prior to the pandemic, most increased (42.0%) or maintained the same (40.8%) care. Their networks also typically increased (33.4%) or maintained (46.5%) care. Increasing one's own care provision was associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and emotional difficulty than maintaining stable care. Among those who increased care, these levels were highest when the network also increased or decreased care.

Discussion

Increased care provision was most strongly associated with poor caregiver wellbeing in contexts where caregivers' social networks also changed care provisions. Supports for caregivers undertaking additional care tasks should take into account caregivers' networks.

Research conducted by

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