About this Research Topic
The population is an aging one. With medical advances and individuals living longer there is a concomitant increase in numbers living with chronic health conditions, and growing numbers of family and friends becoming caregivers. The term “informal caregiver” is used to describe the generally unpaid individual who provides physical and emotional support and provides, arranges, or oversees service provision to patients with functional disabilities or health needs. Critically the care provided is beyond what is typical for the specific relationship. There is consistent evidence that the act of providing care takes a toll on many informal caregivers. In addition to depression, caregiving has been associated with social and family strains, increased physical illness amongst caregivers, and diminished quality of life, although personal, social, cultural and situational factors can buffer these strains.
Current knowledge of informal caregiving and its consequences for providers, recipients and the society may be insufficient or inaccurate given that the characteristics of caregivers and contexts of caregiving have been changing over recent generations. For example, most knowledge has been derived from female caregivers, typically a spouse or adult daughter. Whilst most caregivers are still female, the percentage of women in paid employment has risen from less than 33% in the 1970's to approximately 60% currently, thus, not only has the gender balance, and gender roles changed over 50 years, so has the number and intensity of role conflicts that caregivers likely experience today. We also know very little about caregiving consequences for men. A growing minority of informal caregivers are male, and, to sustain informal caregiving, the proportion of men taking on the role has to grow further. This is a challenging goal given persevering gendered socialization and social norms, with potential further complications arising from cultural variations in this. In addition, the experience of older first time parents, many of whom also face ‘sandwich generation’ issues of still having dependent children in their middle age whilst also having aging or ill parents, remains understudied and poorly understood.
In order to explore the many facets of caregiving today this call welcomes contributions to the following issues, all related to caregiving:
• The present socio-cultural context of caregiving (gender issues, “sandwich generation” issues, cultural expectations and norms)
• Motivation, willingness and ability to provide caregiving
• Caregiving when recipients transit to nursing/retirement homes
• Dyadic coping within a range of health and illness challenges
• Social support processes and caregivers’ and care recipient wellbeing (including dyadic studies)
All types of contributions including Research Reports, Reviews, Opinion or Hypothesis & Theory papers are welcomed.
Keywords: caregivers, health, illness, informal care, social support
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