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The role of friends in caregiving

Changes in the formal health care system and in the health of the population are likely to increase the need for informal care of the sick and disabled. At the same time, high rates of divorce, a retreat from marriage, and increasing participation of women in the labor force are likely to decrease the ability of families to provide care. This research uses data from the National Survey of Families and Households to examine the role that friends play in the provision of care. The authors find that among caregivers, women providing care to a friend are more likely to be age peers and less likely to be employed or married than family caregivers. Friends seem less likely than family to take on care responsibilities when those responsibilities may conflict with other roles. If friends are to become a greater part of the care network, policies that encourage and enable the participation of nonfamily members will be important.

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Research on Aging

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Web of science
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