Objectives: We sought to identify predictors of beginning and ending caregiving.
Methods: At baseline and 3-year follow-up, we interviewed 4245 community residents (61.4% Black, 38.4% White, 0.20% other) aged 65 years or older. We used logistic regression to test predictors of beginning caregiving among baseline noncaregivers and of continuing caregiving among baseline caregivers.
Results: After control for demographic variables, physically healthier individuals were significantly more likely to become caregivers and to continue caregiving. Mental health had little influence on beginning caregiving, but declining mental heath was associated with continuing caregiving.
Conclusions: Maintenance of physical health and function is essential to the ability of older adults to begin and to continue caregiving. Studies that compare the health of current caregivers with that of noncaregivers may substantially underestimate the impact of caregiving on health.