The role of violated caregiver preferences in psychological well-being when older mothers need assistance

Gerontologist. 2013 Jun;53(3):388-96. doi: 10.1093/geront/gns084. Epub 2012 Aug 8.


Purpose: Theory and research suggest that congruence between individuals' preferences for future care and the patterns of care received will affect well-being. In this article, we explore whether older mothers' psychological well-being was affected by the children they preferred as future caregivers and provide assistance at a later point when the mothers experience illness or injury.

Design and methods: In this article, we use a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collected from 234 older mothers at two points 7 years apart, beginning when the mothers were 65-75 years of age.

Results: Multivariate analyses demonstrated that mothers who received assistance from children whom the mothers did not identify as their preferred future caregivers reported higher depressive symptoms at the second wave; receiving care from children identified as preferred caregivers did not affect well-being. Qualitative data suggested that these patterns occurred because the "alternate" caregivers did not possess the socioemotional attributes of preferred children.

Implications: These findings contribute to a growing body of research demonstrating the consequences of violated preferences, particularly when individuals are in need of support in later life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult Children*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires