Rationale: A large body of work demonstrates the impact of caregiving burden on the well-being of parents of individuals with developmental conditions or mental health problems. However, a relative dearth of research examines this impact longitudinally into parents' older age. Objective. The current study examines (1) longitudinal changes in the effect of having a child with a developmental or mental health problem on parental negative affect, psychological well-being, and somatic symptoms, (2) age and gender moderations on these effects, and (3) the unique impact of factors related to the child's condition. Method. This study employs hierarchical linear regression models to examine longitudinal survey data from midlife adults (N = 1,101) from two waves of the National Study of Midlife in the United States (MIDUS). Results. Models revealed some evidence for age attenuation of the impact of caregiving stress. Parents of children with developmental problems still had higher negative affect, poorer psychological well-being, and more somatic symptoms on average than parents in a comparison sample, whereas parents of children with mental health problems only showed evidence of higher negative affect compared to this sample. Within-group analyses also revealed differences between each parenting group into later adulthood. Conclusions. Parents of individuals with developmental or mental health problems may be at risk for poorer well-being late in life. Yet, age and gender differences as well as diagnostic group differences nuance these findings.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- History and Philosophy of Science