Purpose: To classify and identify the main characteristics of the tools used in practice to assess the impact of elderly caregiving on the informal carers' life. Methods A systematic review of literature was performed searching in Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, IBECS, LILACS, SiiS, SSCI and Cochrane Library from 2009 to 2013 in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, and in reference lists of included papers. Results The review included 79 studies, among them several in languages other than English. Their inclusion increased the variety of identified tools to measure this impact (n = 93) and allowed a wider analysis of their geographical use. While confirming their overlapping nature, instruments were classified according to the degree of integration of dimensions they evaluated and their specificity to the caregiving process: caregiver burden (n = 20), quality of life and well-being (n = 11), management and coping (n = 21), emotional and mental health (n = 29), psychosocial impact (n = 10), physical health and healthy habits (n = 2), and other measures. A high use in practice of tools not validated yet and not caregiver-specific was identified. Conclusions: The great variety and characteristics of instruments identified in this review confirm the complexity and multidimensionality of the effects of elderly caregiving on the informal carer’s life and explain the difficulties to assess these effects in practice. According to the classification provided, caregiver burden and emotional and mental health are the most evaluated dimensions. However, further work is required to develop integrated and caregiving focused procedures that can appraise this complexity across different countries and cultures.