THE DIFFERENTIAL IMPACT OF STRESS AS IT RELATES TO GENDER AMONG ELDERLY SPOUSE CAREGIVERS

BARBARA T OBERHOFER DANE, Fordham University

Abstract

The burden and stress of an elderly spouse who has assumed the care of a seriously impaired spouse has been relatively unexplored. The purpose of this study was to systematically examine the population of men and women who are spouse caregivers. The objective was to ascertain the degree of stress experienced by the spouse caregivers with specific emphasis on the degree to which stress is related to gender. Stress was conceptualized as having emotional, physical and financial components.^ Study findings indicate that the average spouse caregiver is over 70 years of age and has at least completed grade school and is on the lower end of the socio-economic scale. Physical health of both the caregiver and carereceiver reflected a frail population, with multiple medical problems. In general, carereceivers needed assistance from their spouse in those tasks requiring mobility and household chores.^ Spouse caregivers experienced the greatest amount of stress in the emotional area, followed by physical stress. Financial stress was least experienced by the vast majority. There was no significant difference regarding degree of emotional, physical or financial stress according to gender. The primary area of worry for the caregivers, was that their spouses' condition would become worse.^ One significant finding regarding gender differences, with regard to stress in the caregiving role is that women experienced more stress than men in the curtailment of social relationships.^ Gender of the spouse caregiver was not found to be related to the following independent variables tested: health of the caregiver; length of time the caregiver has assisted their spouse; number of tasks performed by the caregiver, extent of family involvement and utilization of the formal services. Level of stress, also, was not related to the above tested variables.^ However, some trends have emerged from the above mentioned variables. Male caregivers who felt their health had changed during the past year experienced a great deal of stress. Earlier days of caregiving tended to be highly stressful for the spouse caregivers. Spouse caregivers who performed fewer tasks for their spouse reported little or no stress. There was some slight indication that men caregivers received more visitors and more assistance. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.) ^

Subject Area

Social work

Recommended Citation

OBERHOFER DANE, BARBARA T, "THE DIFFERENTIAL IMPACT OF STRESS AS IT RELATES TO GENDER AMONG ELDERLY SPOUSE CAREGIVERS" (1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8615682.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8615682

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