Caregiver's employment status, burden, coping strategies, and health: A study of adult females with a coresiding parent with Alzheimer's disease

Susan Catherine Bolge, Fordham University

Abstract

Availability of family caregivers has declined due to recent demographic shifts, including declines in fertility, increased female labor force participation, and later initiation of parenthood. Meanwhile, greater life expectancy has resulted in increasing numbers of dependent elderly with functional impairment in need of care. The cognitive impairment and behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, inevitably leads to the initiation of care. This study focuses on the effects of employment status on mental health outcomes of female adult child caregivers of coresiding parents with Alzheimer's disease. ^ Two competing perspectives are used to explain the relationship of multiple roles and mental health outcomes. Role strain attributes stress of competing roles to negative outcomes, and role enhancement attributes benefits from multiple roles to positive outcomes. Results of previous studies of multiple roles and mental health outcomes have not been consistent. Inconsistent results occur from lack of differentiation of employment status beyond employed versus non-employed and lack of uniformity in use of control variables. The stress and coping model takes into account all potential spurious relationships within the context of care and intervening mechanisms of coping strategies and caregiver burden and secondary stressors. ^ Differentiation of employment status and considering the stress and coping model affected the study results. Initially part-time employees experienced marginally better and the unemployed experienced worse mental health outcomes than full-time employees. However, homemakers and the retired experienced mental health outcomes similar to full-time employees. When the spurious effects of context of care were controlled, part-time employees experienced better mental health outcomes though the negative effects of unemployment lessened. Adding controls for the intervening effects of coping strategies and caregiver burden and secondary stressors, part-time employment continued to positively affect mental health outcomes, while the negative effects of unemployed lost statistical significance. ^ Future research should focus on effects of change in employment status and other causes of change in mental health outcomes. Also, future research should consider the quality of the relationship between caregiver and care receiver, additional stressors associated with unemployment, and other intervening mechanisms which may affect mental health outcomes. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Sociology, Demography

Recommended Citation

Susan Catherine Bolge, "Caregiver's employment status, burden, coping strategies, and health: A study of adult females with a coresiding parent with Alzheimer's disease" (January 1, 2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3201123.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3201123

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