Spouse and Child Availability for Newly Disabled Older Adults: Socioeconomic Differences and Potential Role of Residential Proximity

Publication Abstract

Choi, HwaJung, Robert F. Schoeni, Kenneth M. Langa, and Michele Heisler. 2015. "Spouse and Child Availability for Newly Disabled Older Adults: Socioeconomic Differences and Potential Role of Residential Proximity." The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 70(3): 462-469.

We used HRS data to examine the potential role of child and spousal availability in facilitating community-based care for disabled older adults. The analysis sample included older adults who were nondisabled at baseline, but who then developed at least one ADL limitation over the subsequent 2-year period (N = 2,094). Using multivariate, multinomial logistic regression, we examined the association of child and spouse availability prior to disablement to the care of these older adults following disablement, after adjusting for other sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. We found that lower SES was associated with less availability of a spouse but greater availability of children at baseline. Compared with older adults who had no children nearby (i.e., all children lived further than 30 miles), older adults who had at least one child living with or near them prior to the onset of the ADL limitation were less likely to go to a nursing home and less likely to depend on formal care after the onset of new ADL limitation/s.

Understanding SES variations in the informal care resources, and potential role of child geographic availability, may inform the development of cost-effective community-based care programs and policies.

10.1093/geronb/gbu015

Country of focus: United States of America.

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