The Mental Health of Children Providing Care to Their Elderly Parent

Heger, D. (2017)

Health Economics
Volume 26, December 2016, p. 1617-1629

As the population ages, the demand for informal caregiving by family members is constantly increasing. In many cases, adult children are providing care for their elderly parents, resulting in additional stress, which puts the caregivers’ mental health at risk. When providing care, caring for and caring about a parent are two different issues that can negatively impact an adult child’s health. Health effects resulting from the stress of providing informal care for someone are referred to as the “caregiver effect”. At the same time, being concerned about the decline of a parent’s health can have an influence on the health of the caregiving child, too. This effect of caring about a parent is referred to as the “family effect”. Both the caregiver effect and the family effect will be present in informal caregivers. Most studies that investigate health consequences for caregivers, however, do not distinguish between the two. This study aims to disentangle these effects to provide a better understanding of how parental caregiving affects mental health.