Work–life balance of informal caregiving adult children may play a role in their older parent’s mental health
Is the mental health of older adults receiving care from their children related to their children’s dual burden of caregiving and work stress? A linked lives perspective
Objectives: Mental health problems are a major concern in the older population in Sweden, as is the growing number of older adults aging alone in their homes and in need of informal care. Using a linked lives perspective, this study explored if older parents’ mental health is related to their children’s dual burden of informal caregiving and job strain.
Methods: Data from a nationally representative Swedish survey, SWEOLD, were used. Mental health problems in older age (mean age 88) were measured with self-reported ‘mild’ or ‘severe’ anxiety and depressive symptoms. A primary caregiving adult child was linked to each older parent, and this child’s occupation was matched with a job exposure matrix to assess job strain. Logistic regression analyses were conducted with an analytic sample of 334.
Results: After adjusting for covariates, caregiving children’s lower job control and greater job strain were each associated with mental health problems in their older parents (OR 2.52, p = 0.008 and OR 2.56, p = 0.044, respectively). No association was found between caregiving children’s job demands and their older parents’ mental health (OR 1.08, p = 0.799).
Conclusion: In line with the linked lives perspective, results highlight that the work–life balance of informal caregiving adult children may play a role in their older parent’s mental health.