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Aging and Caregiving: A Data-Driven Learning Guide

Application

For this exercise you will explore the characteristics and well-being of middle-aged caregivers using frequency and crosstabulation tables and comparison of means.

In this dataset, age is measured by subtracting year of birth from the date of interview. To create an age measure more appropriate for these analyses, we collapsed age into five categories: 28-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70 and older. We called the new variable "AGEGRP".

Who are the caregivers?

To measure caregiving, we recoded the survey's variable B1PD1 to exclude missing data. Answers were coded "1" if the respondent reported caregiving in the previous 12 months, and "0" otherwise. We called the new measure "GAVECARE".

According to the frequency table, what percentage of people gave care in the past year? Is the number higher or lower you might've expected?

Next, we created a measure of caring for parents (including in-laws) from the variable B1PD2, which measures to whom care was given. We created a new variable, called "PARENTCARE," which was coded as "1" if the caregiver reported caring for a mother, father, mother-in-law, or father-in-law, and coded as "0" otherwise. Keep in mind that the percentages shown are of caregivers, not of the sample as a whole. What proportion of caregivers are caring for parents?

Now take a look at caregiving by age. Which age groups are more likely to have given care?

Next look at caring for parents by age which shows the number of people caring for their parents by age. What do you find? Are the results for giving care to parents the same as for caregiving in general?

Now consider gender. Look at crosstabs of gender (B1PRSEX) and both GAVECARE and PARENTCARE. Of those who gave care, what percentage are male? What percentage are female? Are the results as you expected? Why?

How much time is spent caregiving?

To measure the amount of time spent caregiving, two new variables were created. First, we recoded the number of weeks of caregiving in the past year (B1PD14) into two categories: Less than 26 weeks and 26 weeks or more.

Look at the resulting frequency (CAREWEEKS). What do you find?

We recoded average weekly hours spent giving care (B1PD15) into four categories: 0-9 hours, 10-19 hours, 20-39 hours, and 40 or more hours. Now look at the number of hours spent in caregiving per week (CAREHOURS). Are the results as you expected?

Now look at the number of weeks spent caring for parents. Do caregivers of parents differ from other caregivers in the number of weeks spent caring? Next examine the number of hours per week spent in caregiving. Are there differences in the average weekly hours spent caring?

Does caregivers' well-being differ from that of non-caregivers?

To examine the relationship between caregiving and problems at work, use the Negative Effects of Family Life on Work scale (B1SNEGFW). This scale sums responses to four questions which ask how often each of the following were experienced in the past year: 1) Responsibilities at home reduce the effort you can devote to your job; 2) Personal or family worries and problems distract you when you are at work; 3) Activities and chores at home prevent you from getting the amount of sleep you need to do your job well, and; 4) Stress at home makes you irritable at work. The scale ranges from 4-20, with higher scores indicating more negative effects of family life on work.

Run a comparison of means, with B1SNEGFW and GAVECARE. (B1SNEGFW is the dependent variable.) Do caregivers experience more negative effects of family on their work than do non-caregivers?

Now try B1SNEGFW with PARENTCARE. Are people who give care to parents more or less affected at work than are those who give care to non-parents?

Next consider the relationship between caregiving and marital quality. To measure marital quality, we recoded frequency of trouble in marriage/relationship in the past year (B1SL7) into three categories: 0=Never; 1=Once or a few times; 2=Most or all of the time. Look at the relationship between this new variable TROUBLE and GAVECARE . Is there a difference in frequency of marital trouble between caregivers and non-caregivers?

What happens when you look at PARENTCARE? Is the relationship between marital quality and caregiving different for those caring for parents than for other caregivers?

Finally, consider the relationship between caregiving and overall life satisfaction. To measure life satisfaction, use B1SQ1 which asks, "Using a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 means 'the worst possible life overall' and 10 means 'the best possible life overall,' how would you rate your life overall these days?"

Look at how the mean level of life satisfaction differs for those who do and do not give care. Do caregivers and non-caregivers rate their lives differently?

Now try the comparison of means again with PARENTCARE. Do those who care for parents rate their lives differently than other caregivers?

Note: The online data analysis system (DAS) used on this site uses a system called Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA), developed and maintained by the Computer-assisted Survey Methods Program (CSM) at the University of California, Berkeley. Documentation for DAS/SDA can be found on their Web site.

CITATION: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. Aging and Caregiving: A Data-Driven Learning Guide. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-04-16. Doi:10.3886/agingcaregiving