A majority of us will at some point in our lives take care of family members, relatives and friends in need of assistance. How will this affect us? Strain related to life satisfaction (LS) and health related quality of life (HRQoL) among caregivers aged 60 years and older has not been previously studied.
Objectives: The main objective was to describe characteristics of non-caregivers (n = 2233) and caregivers (n = 369). Further objectives were to examine differences in HRQoL and LS between caregivers and non-caregivers, and between caregivers stratified by level of strain.
Methods: We analyzed the differences in socio-demographics, social participation, locus of control and symptoms between groups. HRQoL was assessed by Short Form Health Survey (SF-12/PCS and MCS). LS was measured by the Life Satisfaction Index-A (LSI-A).
Results: Caregivers were younger, had more years of formal education, more often cohabiting and relied less on powerful others than non-caregivers. One hundred and thirty-three (36%) caregivers reported high strain. In a three-group comparison including non-caregivers and caregivers stratified for strain, high strain was associated with lower SF12-PCS, SF12-MCS and LSI-A (0.014, <0.001 and <0.001, respectively).
Conclusion: High strain affects caregivers’ HRQoL and LS in a negative way.
Practice: It is important for the health care sector to consider the possibility that symptoms in a person acting as a caregiver can be related to high perceived strain.
Implications: A general policy program aiming to identify caregivers and their needs for support is much needed.