There is uncertainty about how caregiving affects the physical, mental, and functional health of older adults. Two NEAR-based studies: the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Blekinge (SNAC-B) and Skåne (SNAC-S GÅS), were used to examine whether caregiving influences physical, mental, and functional health in older adults over six years.
Becoming a family caregiver impacts physical but not mental or functional health
The occurrence of family caregiving was 13% in 2295 individuals aged 60-96 years. In relation to caregiving, persons could be categorized into four groups: 1) family caregivers at the start of the study and at 6-year follow-up, 2) family caregivers at the start of the study but not at follow-up, 3) non-caregivers at the start of the study but caregivers at follow-up, and 4) non-caregivers at both time points. Surprisingly, those who became caregivers during the follow-up period (group 3) had better physical health after six years, as compared to the other groups. Moreover, non-caregivers reported greater changes in their physical, mental, and functional health, as well as increased health concerns than caregivers. Overall, becoming a family caregiver has an impact on physical but not mental or functional health. More research is needed to further explore these results.
Wranker, L.S, Elmstahl S, Fagerström C. The Health of Older Family Caregivers – A 6-Year Follow-up. J Gerontol Soc Work. 2021;64 (2): 190-207. https://doi.org/10.1080/01634372.2020.1843098.