Caregiving in older ages and the quality of life - which factors of caring are important?

Martin Lakomý, Masaryk University

Nowadays, many developed countries have implemented a policy of active ageing – that is an inclusive policy redefining the status and roles of older people to provide them the same opportunities and quality of life as other age groups. One of the roles, which are expected to be occupied by many older people, is the role of carer. People over 50 years of age are important providers of informal care for their grandchildren, spouses, parents and other family or nonfamily members. Is the provision of care in older ages associated with lower loneliness and more meaningful life, as expected by definitions of active ageing? Or is it associated with tiredness and overload? This paper utilizes the fourth wave of the SHARE project to answer the questions stated above. Random-intercept ordinal logistic regression is used to investigate effects of provided care on three dimensions of life satisfaction – loneliness, meaningfulness of life and overload. Intensity and multiplicity of care are controlled as important dimensions of caring relationship and the effects of care are thus elaborated as a context dependent phenomenon, role of social policies in these associations is also controlled in the multilevel analysis. The provision of care generally does not prevent loneliness, but is related, except in the case of very intensive care, to a declared more meaningful life. Multiple caring responsibilities on a daily basis are not associated with overload. On contrary, any less intensive care helps to eliminate perceived overload in life. Number of caring relationships is also important in explaining this puzzle. The provision of informal care as the one part of active ageing may promote quality of life and it really does under various circumstances. However, professional help is also crucial under some conditions.

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Presented in Session 37: Consequences of care-giving