Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stepfamilies add to caregiver burden

Date:
September 24, 2013
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
Caregiving is always tough, but it's that much tougher when caregivers have to rely on family ties that are ambiguous, strained or virtually nonexistent, suggests a study.

Caregiving is always tough, but it's that much tougher when caregivers have to rely on family ties that are ambiguous, strained or virtually nonexistent, suggests a University of Michigan study.

Published online this month in the Journal of Marriage and Family, the U-M study is one of the first to explore how divorce and remarriage affect wives who are caregivers.

The issue affects large numbers of Americans. More than 35 million Americans are remarried, and nearly half a million adults over age 65 remarry every year. At the same time, Americans are living longer, with increasing levels of chronic disease.

Carey Wexler Sherman, a research investigator at the U-M Institute for Social Research, interviewed 61 women who remarried in later life and who were the caregivers of husbands with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. She asked the women, who were 66-years-old on average, about their social support networks, and assessed their well-being and the amount of disagreement they experienced about caregiving decisions with family and stepfamily members.

"I was surprised at how little adult stepchildren were involved in the care of their fathers," Sherman said. "Even when the relationships between stepmothers and adult stepchildren were good, there were likely to be problems involving communication about who should be making medical and financial decisions. For caregivers who did not have close ties with adult stepchildren before the onset of health problems with the husband and father, it was even harder."

From the caregivers' perspective, adult stepchildren and other stepfamily members were much more likely than their own families and friends to offer unwanted advice, interfere or meddle, to question the caregiver's decisions, and to say things that were inconsiderate, angry or critical. They also were more likely to let the caregiver down when she needed help.

Sherman also found that many of the remarried caregivers worked to avoid a sense of isolation and the feeling that they had to handle everything on their own.

"Some women turned to counselors, support groups, online websites, as well as their own family and friends, for support and help," Sherman said. "They did what they could to cope with a difficult situation."

Still, it was striking how many women reported being virtually alone in their caregiving role, she said.

"They expected and needed assistance from their husband's children and were deeply distressed when it was not forthcoming," she said. "It's important to recognize that a lack of shared family history and norms likely affects the way stepfamily members cope with the demands of taking care of a loved one with dementia."

Sherman said that caregivers are likely to experience increased burden and depression as a result.

"With so many older Americans in complex family situations, this study signals the need for greater understanding of aging stepfamilies, as well as tailored interventions that address the unique decision-making and care-related support needs of re-partnered older adults," she said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Carey Wexler Sherman, Noah J. Webster, Toni C. Antonucci. Dementia Caregiving in the Context of Late-Life Remarriage: Support Networks, Relationship Quality, and Well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, October 2013 DOI: 10.1111/jomf.12059

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Stepfamilies add to caregiver burden." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130924153949.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2013, September 24). Stepfamilies add to caregiver burden. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130924153949.htm
University of Michigan. "Stepfamilies add to caregiver burden." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130924153949.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stroke in Young Adults

Stroke in Young Adults

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A stroke can happen at any time and affect anyone regardless of age. This mother chose to give her son independence and continue to live a normal life after he had a stroke at 18 years old. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Distracted Adults: ADHD?

Distracted Adults: ADHD?

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Most people don’t realize that ADHD isn’t just for kids. It can affect the work as well as personal lives of many adults, and often times they don’t even know they have it. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Sight and Sounds of Autism

The Sight and Sounds of Autism

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new study is explaining why for some people with autism what they see and what they hear is out of sync. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experiences Make Us Happy, Even Just Waiting For Them

Experiences Make Us Happy, Even Just Waiting For Them

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) New research finds we get more excited to buy experiences than we do to buy material things. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins