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Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2022 Abstracts

Family Caretakers: The Socio-Emotional Impacts of Caring for Loved Ones at the End-of-Life

Presenter: Madeleine Sorenson
Authors: Madeleine Sorenson
Faculty Advisor: Rebecca Utz
Institution: University of Utah

As life expectancies increase and birth rates decrease, caretaking for older adults at the end of life is an increasingly important topic in the United States. Cultural traditions, financial limitations, and lack of institutional support lead many older adults to rely on family caretakers as their main support system at end of life. Family caretakers are often thrust into new and unfamiliar roles, acting as nurses, chaplins, housekeepers, and funeral coordinators as the support needs of their loved ones increases with age and disability. This project uses quantitative data from the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS2) national survey in order to analyze the social, financial, and emotional impacts of providing in-home end of life care on family caretakers. Women disproportionately take on family caretaker roles, not only for their own parents, but for their spouses and their spouses parents, indicating that gender often has a greater influence in who becomes a family caretaker than relationship type or age difference. Similarly, women who act as family caretakers are more likely to report negative impacts on their career and greater difficulty with caretaker burnout and mental health impacts. The findings demonstrate that women bear a disproportionate burden for providing end of life care to family members and that family caretakers face significant impacts to their quality of life across multiple spheres.