Adult stepchildren and caregiver burden

Adult stepchildren and caregiver burden

Caregiving is always tough, but it’s that much tougher when caregivers have to rely on family ties that are ambiguous, strained or virtually nonexistent, suggests a University of Michigan study.

Published online this month in the Journal of Marriage and Family, the U-M study is one of the first to explore how divorce and remarriage affect wives who are caregivers.

The issue affects large numbers of Americans. More than 35 million Americans are remarried, and nearly half a million adults over age 65 remarry every year. At the same time, Americans are living longer, with increasing levels of chronic disease.

Carey Wexler Sherman, a research investigator at the U-M Institute for Social Research, interviewed 61 women who remarried in later life and who were the caregivers of husbands with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. She asked the women, who were 66-years-old on average, about their social support networks, and assessed their well-being and the amount of disagreement they experienced about caregiving decisions with family and stepfamily members.