Caregivers experience numerous mental and physical health effects from the stress of providing care, but we know little about whether these problems persist in the long term and whether long-term effects differ across caregiving contexts. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women, we examined the relationship between caregiving and long-term patterns of depressive symptoms, functional limitations, and mortality. We also explored the health effects of caregiving in-home versus out-of-home and by caregiver/care-recipient relationship. Analyses show that in-home spousal and parental caregiving predict increased depressive symptoms and functional limitations in the long term but are unassociated with mortality, whereas caregiving outside the home is unassociated with later depression and functional limitations but predicts a lower risk of mortality. This study highlights the usefulness of approaching stressful experiences such as caregiving from the life course perspective, viewing them as processes that unfold over time within specific contexts that may carry delayed or cumulative consequences.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)