Long-term Care Provision and the Well-Being of Spousal Caregivers: An Analysis of 138 European Regions

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2018 Apr 16;73(4):e24-e34. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbx133.


Objectives: The individual burden of caring for one's relatives not only depends on care characteristics but is also related to contextual factors. The objective of this study is to determine whether regional formal long-term care provision is linked to the well-being of spousal caregivers introducing the concept of "control" as central pathway to explain this link.

Method: We applied multilevel analysis using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) from over 29,000 Europeans and 1,800 spousal caregivers located in 138 regions in 11 countries to analyze the effects of regional contexts on caregiver well-being. The provision of formal care in a region was measured by the number of long-term care beds in nursing and residential homes among the older population.

Results: We found that spousal caregivers' well-being, measured in terms of life satisfaction, loneliness, and depression, was positively linked to the regional availability of formal care, which is partly due to higher perceived control in regions with more formal care provision.

Discussion: Our results suggest that formal care supply is essential not only for care recipients but also for caregivers: perceived alternatives to the private care arrangement go along with greater well-being of informal caregivers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology
  • Long-Term Care / methods
  • Long-Term Care / psychology*
  • Long-Term Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Spouses / psychology
  • Spouses / statistics & numerical data