Who provides care? A prospective study of caregiving among adult siblings

Gerontologist. 2014 Aug;54(4):589-98. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnt066. Epub 2013 Jul 9.


Purpose: We use data from a longitudinal, within-family study to identify factors that predict which adult siblings assumed caregiving responsibilities to older mothers over a 7-year period.

Design and methods: Data for the study were collected from 139 older mothers at 2 points 7 years apart regarding their expectations and experiences of care from 537 adult children.

Results: Children whom mothers identified at T1 as their expected future caregivers were much more likely to provide care when a serious illness occurred. Caregiving offspring were also more likely at T1 to have shared their mothers' values, lived in proximity, and to be daughters.

Implications: The findings indicate the degree to which a mother's expectations for care predict actual caregiving by that child. Practitioners working with older adults should explore parents' expectations for future care that involves their adult children.

Keywords: Caregiver selection; Caregiving; Family issues; Parent–adult child relations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Children*
  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disabled Persons / psychology
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Siblings / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult