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Article Abstract

Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 17, Issue 3, 2014. Pages: 99-105
Published Online: 1 September 2014

Copyright © 2014 ICMPE.


 

Informal Caregiving for Elderly People with Mental Illnesses and the Mental Health of the Informal Caregivers

Katharina Lindenbaum,1 Magdalena A. Stroka,Roland Linder3

1Department of Economics, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, Germany
2Department of Economics, Ruhr-Universität Bochum; Bochum, RWI, Essen; WINEG, Hamburg, Germany
3WINEG, Hamburg, Germany

* Correnspondence to:  Magdalena A. Stroka, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstr. 150, 44801 Bochum, Germany
Tel.: +49-234-322 6969
Email: Magdalena.Stroka@rub.de 

Source of Funding: None declared.

Abstract

Using routine data from Germany’s largest sickness we analyze the informal caregivers’ mental burden and aim to answer the following questions in this context: (i) Does the risk of the mental burden due to informal caregiving increase when the dependent person suffers from mental diseases? (ii) Does the utilization of formal care assistance reduce the burden? Our pooled logit estimations provide evidence for a significant difference of the risk of mental disturbance in informal caregivers when caring for impaired elderly with and without certain mental disorders. Claiming formal care services in addition to the informal care provision decreases the mental burden of the caregivers.

 

Objectives: Caring for a person often imposes a significant burden on informal caregivers, which is a possible threat to their own health and well-being. The aim of this study is twofold: (i) We analyze whether the risk of the mental burden due to informal caregiving increases when the dependent person suffers from mental disorders. (ii) We investigate if the utilization of formal care assistance reduces this burden.

Method: Routine data from a sickness fund regarding informal caregivers of frail elderly persons aged  ≥ 65 years is analyzed by estimating pooled logit models.

Results: We find evidence for a significant difference of the risk of mental disturbance in informal caregivers when caring for impaired elderly with and without certain mental disorders. However, claiming formal care services in addition to the informal care provision decreases the disturbance.

Discussion: There are political implications that arise from our results: First, the already existing system of formal in-home services should be enlarged. Second, special attention should be paid to the health status of the person in need of care when deciding which form of care is appropriate and the least burdensome for the informal caregiver.

Received 2 March 2014; accepted 22 July 2014

Copyright 2014 ICMPE