Extent and Cost of Informal Caregiving for Older Americans with Symptoms of Depression

TitleExtent and Cost of Informal Caregiving for Older Americans with Symptoms of Depression
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsLanga, KM, Valenstein, MA, A. Fendrick, M, Kabeto, MU, Vijan, S
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Call Numberpubs_2004_Langa-etal_AJP.pdf
KeywordsHealth Conditions and Status, Healthcare

Objective: Symptoms of depression are common among older individuals and may cause or exacerbate limitations in independent functioning. However, little is known regarding if, and to what extent, individuals with depressive symptoms require additional informal caregiving from family and friends. Our objective was to obtain nationally representative estimates of the additional time, and related cost, of informal caregiving associated with the presence of depressive symptoms among older Americans. Method: We performed a cross-sectional analysis using data from the 1993 Asset and Health Dynamics among the Oldest Old Study, a nationally representative survey of people aged 70 or older (N=6,651). Eight items from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) were used to classify individuals into three groups: 1) No depressive symptoms in the last week; 2) 1 to 3 depressive symptoms in the last week; and 3) 4 to 8 depressive symptoms in the last week. Multivariable regression models were used to determine the weekly hours of informal caregiving, and imputed cost of caregiver time for individuals in each of these categories, after adjusting for important covariates. Results: 44 of individuals reported 1-3 depressive symptoms and 18 reported 4-8 depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms were associated with significantly higher rates of limitations in activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living (P .001). After adjustment for sociodemographics, caregiver network, and co-existing chronic health conditions, those with no depressive symptoms received an average of 2.9 hours per week of informal care, while those with 1-3 symptoms received 4.3 hours, and those with 4-8 symptoms received 6.0 hours of care (p .001). Thus, caregiving associated with depressive symptoms represents a yearly cost of about 9 billion in the United States.

Endnote Keywords

Depression Symptoms/Caregiving

Endnote ID


Citation Key6918