Determining the pattern of community care: is coresidence more important than caregiver relationship

S L Tennstedt
Sybil L. Crawford, University of Massachusetts Medical School
John B. McKinlay, New England Research Institutes

Document Type Article


Researchers have previously emphasized the importance of kinship tie to explaining the pattern of care received by a disabled elder. For example, it has been argued that spouses are a distinct group of caregivers, i.e., they provide more care with less help from others and experience more stress. However, based on the theory of primary group structures and functions, this study hypothesized that coresidence rather than the kinship tie is more important in determining the pattern of caregiving. When spouses are compared to other coresiding caregivers, patterns of informal care and use of formal services are similar. Variance in amounts of informal care is explained by elder gender and frailty level rather than by caregiver relationship. Similarly, level of frailty was the only important predictor of use of formal services.