Background: Caregiver health is a crucial public health concern due to the increasing number of elderly people with disabilities. Elderly caregivers are more likely to have poorer health and be a care recipient than younger caregivers. The Taiwan government offers home-based long-term care (LTC) services to provide formal care and decrease the burden of caregivers. This study examined the effects of home-based LTC services on caregiver health according to caregiver age.
Methods: This cross-sectional study included a simple random sample of care recipients and their caregivers. The care recipients had used LTC services under the Ten-Year Long-Term Care Project (TLTCP) in Taiwan. Data were collected through self-administered questionnaires from September 2012 to January 2013. The following variables were assessed for caregivers: health, sex, marital status, education level, relationship with care recipient, quality of relationship with care recipient, job, household monthly income, family income spent on caring for the care recipient (%) and caregiving period. Furthermore, the following factors were assessed for care recipients: age, sex, marital status, education level, living alone, number of family members living with the care recipient, quality of relationship with family and dependency level. The health of the caregivers and care recipients was measured using a self-rated question (self-rated health [SRH] was rated as very poor, poor, fair, good and very good).
Results: The study revealed that home nursing care was significantly associated with the health of caregivers aged 65 years or older; however, caregivers aged less than 65 who had used home nursing care, rehabilitation or respite care had poorer health than those who had not used these services. In addition, the following variables significantly improved the health of caregivers aged 65 years or older: caregiver employment, 20% or less of family income spent on caregiving than 81%–100% and higher care recipient health. The involvement of daughters-in-law, rather than spouses, and care recipient health were positively related to the health of caregivers aged less than 65 years.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that home-based LTC service use benefits the health of elderly caregivers. By contrast, home-based LTC service use may be negatively correlated with the health of the caregivers aged less than 65 years.