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Jenkins, Kristi R., M.U. Kabeto, and Kenneth M. Langa. 2009. "Does caring for your spouse harm one's health? Evidence from a United States nationally-representative sample of older adults." Ageing & Society, 29: 277-293.
The purpose of this article is to investigate the relationship between spousal care-giving and declines in functioning and self-rated health among older care-givers. The authors used data from the 2000 and 2002 waves or the United States Health and Retirement Study, a biennial longitudinal survey of a nationally representative cohort of adults aged 50 or more years. Two outcomes were examined, declines in functioning and declines in self-rated health, Care-givers were classified into three groups: no care-giving less than 14 hours of care-giving per week, and 14 or more hours care-giving per week. To assess declines in functioning, two Summary scores were created or limitations in basic and instrumental Activities of Daily Living. To assess declines in self-rated health, we compared responses from 2000 and 2002. In the fully adjusted models, care-giving hours did riot have an independent effect. on declines in functioning or self-rated health. The relationship between care-giving hours and declines in functioning and self-rated health is probably attributable to socio-demographic characteristics, mainly age. The findings suggest that spousal care-giving does not of itself harm functional health or perceived health among older adult care-givers. Understanding the differential effects or these socio-economic characteristics with care-giving hours on health will be useful in promoting the health of older adult care-givers and treating their disorders.
Country of focus: United States.