Internal resources among informal caregivers: trajectories and associations with well-being
The experiences, skills, and internal resources that informal caregivers bring into their role may play a critical part in their mental health and well-being. This study examined how caregiver internal resources changed over a 10 year period, and how this was related to caregivers’ well-being.
Data are from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study, a national sample of adults, at two time points: 1995–1996 (T1) and 2004–2006 (T2). We identified subjects who reported being a caregiver at T2 and starting care after T1 (mean age = 56; 65% female). We examined internal resources: sense of control (personal mastery); primary and secondary control strategies (persistence in goal striving, positive reappraisal, and lowering expectations); and social support seeking, and psychological and subjective well-being. We evaluated how internal resources changed over time, and how these trajectories were associated with well-being at T2 using multivariable linear regressions.
Most caregivers had stable levels of internal resources (between 4 and 13% showed an increase or decrease). Caregivers with increasing or high-stable levels of personal mastery had significantly better well-being scores on 6 out of 8 subscales compared with low-stable levels [effect sizes (ES) between 0.39 and 0.79]. Increasing persistence was associated with better personal growth and environmental mastery (ES = 0.96 and 0.91), and increasing and high-stable positive reappraisals were associated with better affect (ES = 0.63 and 0.48) compared with low-stable levels. Lowering aspirations and support seeking were not associated with well-being outcomes.
Practices or interventions that support or improve internal resources could potentially improve caregiver well-being.
KeywordsCaregiver MIDUS Resources Mastery Control Social support seeking Longitudinal
The MIDUS 1 study (Midlife in the U.S.) presented here was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development. The MIDUS 2 research study was supported by a Grant from the National Institute on Aging (P01-AG020166) to conduct a longitudinal follow-up research of the MIDUS 1 investigation.
- 18.Brim, O. G., Ryff, C. D., & Kessler, R. C. (2004). The MIDUS National Survey: An overview. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- 19.MIDUS. (2007). Mid-life in the United States: A National Study of Health and Well-being. Madison: UW Institute on Aging.Google Scholar
- 22.UW-Madison Institute on Aging. (2009). National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS), 1995–1996: Documentation of Scales and Constructed Variables in MIDUS 1. Ann Arbor: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.Google Scholar
- 23.UW-Madison Institute on Aging. (2010). Documentation of psychosocial constructs and composite variables in MIDUS II Project 1. Ann Arbor: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.Google Scholar
- 24.Brim, O., Baltes, P., Bumpass, L., Cleary, P., Featherman, D., Hazzard, W., et al. (2011). National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS), 1995–1996. ICPSR02760–v8. Ann Arbor: Inter–university Consortium for Political and Social Research.Google Scholar
- 27.Lachman, M. E., & Weaver, S. L. (1997). The Midlife Development Inventory (MIDI) personality scales: Scale construction and scoring. Waltham: Brandeis University.Google Scholar
- 30.Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.Google Scholar
- 43.Friedman, E. M., Ruini, C., Foy, R., Jaros, L., Sampson, H., & Ryff, C. D. (2015). Lighten UP! A community-based group intervention to promote psychological well-being in older adults. Aging Mental Health, 21(2), 1–7.Google Scholar
- 45.Mollica, M., Litzelman, K., Rowland, J., & Kent, E. (2017). Training informal cancer caregivers in medical tasks is associated with improved confidence and reduced burden. Cancer (in press).Google Scholar