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Race and Income Impact on Older Adult Caregivers

Jasmine Spearman
Ithaca College

Race and Income impact on Older Adult Caregivers

Race and income are two of the differences that divide the individuals in our society.
People may obeserve that these categories arent great predictors for individuals lifestylw,
but these two differences among cultures seem to be factors that affect the caregivers of
older adults. There are many factors that play a role in caregiving, such as education, age,
geographic location, resources (outside of income), and many more. However, this paper
will focus on race and income as the primary differences impacting caregiving.
Caregivers are the ones who tend to the needs of older adults, they make their their
healthcare appointments, advocate for their needs. It is important to realize the
imporatance of caregivers and their overall health and what contributes to that, which is
the primary reason for this research
Taking care of an older adult can be an additional stressor that is added onto ongoing
life situations, and having limitations makes it more challenging. Having a caregiver with
all of the resources, without any limiting factors is ideal but it usually doesnt end up that
way. Taking into account that there are some older adults with disabilities, increasing the
caregivers responsibilities to twice as much as a caregiver taking care of an older adult
without any health issues. To decrease the burden on caregivers, carefully analyzing the
differences among the caregiving population is necessary which brings me to the affects
of income.
P1: Income or socioeconomic status affect on caregiving
The value of unpaid family caregivers will likely continue to be the largest source of
long-term care services in the U.S., and the aging population 65+ will more than double

Race and Income impact on Older Adult Caregivers

between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million in 2000.
This represents the amount of family members who voluntarily take care of their loved
ones and are working for no pay. There is a very large percentage of these individuals
who dedicate so much time and money into the person they are caring and their personal
needs arent being taken care of. This is partially because if they dont have the income to
have help outside of the informal setting then they take on the resposibility for
themselves and in result abandoning their needs.
The higher income one has, the more they're able to seek out help and other
resources to assist them with the caregiving process. This is an idea that is true but in
comparison to lower socioeconomic status individuals they have more mental health
issues and they seem to have a harder time assuming the role of a caregiving. Studies has
shown that individuals with lower socioeconomic reported less negative affects of
caregiving than those of a higher socioeconomic status in mental health, such as stress
and depression. However, those with higher socioeconomic status report less negative
affects of caregiving in physical health, such as hypertension, and higher mortality rates.
White caregivers compared to other races are more likely to use paid help (43%
compared to 29% African Americans).
Without focusing on how income can be spent with assisting in caregiving, some
research has stated that, the lower the income and education of a individual, the more
likely he or she is to be a caregiver. In reference to that, those with a high school
education or less (20%) take on a caregiver role verses (15%) of college graduates and
(16%) of postgraduates. This could be a consequense of a person who has less education
and therefore having a reduced chance of getting or seeking employment. The effect of

Race and Income impact on Older Adult Caregivers

education on income and that they assume the role because they are the ones in the home
with older adult family members while others are working.

P2: Race affect on caregiving


Race for some people is important in their identity and in general it gives some
information about ones family traditions and religious beliefs. Ones race can also
correlate with specific behaviors or habits that affect caregiving and the health of the
caregiver. African Americans: African Americans and persons of lower socioeconomic
status have been reported to be less adversely affected than whites and upper SES persons
in mental health, which changes when the indicator is physical health(Siegler et al.,
2010) This means that both lower income and African American caregivers when strictly
looking at mental health, like depression, and stress report less negative effects of
caregiving. In comparison Whites may report more negative mental health but better
physical health effects in caregiving.
In the study done by Siegler and his collegues they were looking at the relationship
between caregivers race, residence, and depressive symptoms. It argued that the possible
reason for them being less affected was because of the deifferent cultural meanings
attached to caring for a loved one or friend. For this specific study done it focused on
older adults with dementia of the Alzheimer type and the amount level of depression
their caregivers experience. More time needed for care depended on the number of years
the older adult had Alzheimers. The finding of this particular study showed that there are
conditions when intergenerational caregivers are living together, when the lower levels of
depression isnt being looked at (Siegler et al., 2010).

Race and Income impact on Older Adult Caregivers

There are many ethnics within the white race, and they all have different views ad
attitudes towards family support systems and according to Ernst, elder Polish Americans
felt like there wasnt anyone to provide aid, and the felt socially isolated and it is due to
the tradition of privacy, self-containment and being formal in social situation of the
Polish people. In comparison to this group Italians have an emphasis on family
centeredness and their elders tend to reach out to their family and close friends for
support when they need it. This shows that all races even, ethnicities have their way of
dealing with family issues, which can determine exactly how they handle dealing with
elders in their family needing to be taken care of (Selected Caregiver Statistics, 2012).
In some findings it was noted that, Caucasian caregivers reported higher spiritual
strain than caregivers of color (87% of whom were African American) is consistent with a
number of studies documenting the protective functions of spiritual and religion coping
among African American caregivers (Townsend et al., 2010). This may be due the fact
that African Americans use more spiritual outlets than Whites do, and this contributes to
their coping mechanism of being a caregiver, and this is apart of their most influentual
resources where as Whites use other resources that may require money.
P4: How it affects the older adults who are being cared for

Race and Income impact on Older Adult Caregivers

P5: Ideas, resources, or ways to improve these effects on caregiving


Due to the large growing population of older adults in our society there has been an
increase in the amount of services provided for the elderly. Some programs that are
available are adult day programs, and according to the California Department of Aging,
there are community based adult services as well as family caregiver support programs,
Nutrition programs and the list is endless. The resources are out there to be used, and
based off of the research discovered on the impact of money and race and others these are
needed. To lesses the load on the informal caregiver, the adult day program is something
to consider, because it allows individuals with a occupation that has to be away during the
day to have the older adult needs being met while giving them a chance to interact with
others(California Department of Aging, 2015).

Race and Income impact on Older Adult Caregivers

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