Comparison of informal caregiving by black and white older adults in a community population

McCann, JJ, LE Hebert, LA Beckett, MC Morris, PA Scherr and DA Evans

J. Am. Geriatr. Soc.. 2000. 48(12):1612-1617.

OBJECTIVES: To examine the prevalence of informal caregiving and demographic factors associated with caregiving time in older community residents and compare caregiving prevalence and time spent providing care by black and white residents. DESIGN: A cross-sectional, population-based study. SETTING: The study was conducted as part of the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) in a geographically defined community of black and white residents aged 65 and older. PARTICIPANTS: Participants were 5924 community residents (61.4% black; 38.6% white) who answered questions about informal caregiving responsibilities during a structured interview about a broad range of health and social factors. METHODS: Data were collected during an in-home interview, Multiple logistic and linear regression models were used to examine the association between caregiving and race, gender, age, marital status, and education. RESULTS: More than 16% of residents had provided care to others during the previous 12 months, and 10.3% were currently providing care. Compared with whites, blacks were 30% more likely to be caregivers, spent almost 13 more hours each week in caregiving activities, and were more likely to assist friends. The probability of caregiving increased significantly with age for married persons, decreased with age for unmarried persons, and was lower for men compared with women. The time spent providing care each week increased significantly with age for married persons and did not differ between men and women. CONCLUSIONS: Although physicians and other healthcare providers typically view older people as the recipients of informal care, individuals older than age 65 provide a substantial amount of care to others with health problems and disability, Most research has focused on the needs of young and middle-aged caregivers, and little is known about the needs of these older caregivers. Future research should use sampling strategies that provide adequate numbers of whits and non-white participants for meaningful comparisons. This will permit identification of racial and cultural differences in caregiving so that interventions can be tailored to specific groups.

Keywords: caregiving prevalence; older caregivers; informal care; racial differences; population study, Health; Care; Prevalence; Americans; Dementia

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