AIM: This paper reports a study to investigate coping strategies and sense of coherence in relation to gender, the extent of care, caregiving activities and health-related quality of life in a population-based sample of caregivers aged 75 and over.
BACKGROUND: Caring for another person can be stressful both emotionally, and caregiver burden may affect quality of life in a negative way for the carer. Caregivers' experience of burden may depend on for example, the behaviour of the person cared for, their own health and their sense of coherence. Older people take a great part of caregiving responsibility and thus understanding of their strain and coping is required.
METHODS: A postal survey was carried out in 2001 with 171 informal caregivers, aged 75 or older. The response rate was 47%. The questionnaire included the Short-Form 12, Carer's Assessment of Managing Index, and Sense of Coherence instrument.
RESULTS: Almost 70% of caregivers provided help every day. Higher health-related quality of life was predicted by using self-sustaining coping strategies and by high sense of coherence. Poor economic situation and demanding social and practical support predicted low scores.
CONCLUSION: These findings could help identify those at risk of low quality of life due to caregiving, dysfunctional coping or lack of information about care. Early intervention, including education about alternative coping strategies and practical information, might allow caregivers better possibilities to continue caring with less negative effects on their lives.