Research Study (NH UCEDD) Supports Caregiver Health and Well-being

August 23, 2012

Transitions in Caregiving, a three-year research project conducted by the University of New Hampshire's Center on Aging and Community Living, found that serving family caregivers through discretionary funding and emotional support helped them to maintain physical and emotional well-being even as their family members' health or abilities declined.

The 418 caregivers involved in the study, representing all 10 counties in the state, had been in their caregiving roles for an average of five and a half years. Individually, caregivers also averaged over 17 hours of care per day. Among the sample, a little more than half were the spouses of their care recipients, and most of the remaining caregivers were adult children caring for an aging parent. Regarding those receiving care during this study, more than two-thirds met New Hampshire's eligibility requirements for nursing home level of care, meaning that they depended on assistance for two or more of their daily living activities like eating, bathing, or dressing, and/or they experienced dementia or other memory problems. The study provided caregivers with small grants (less than $2,000) for respite care or other supportive goods and services. Caregiver Specialists, employees of local ServiceLink Aging and Disability Resource Centers, also offered counseling services and emotional support. With these interventions in place, the study found that, over six months, caregivers' feelings of burden, symptoms of depression, and mental and physical well-being did not become worse despite care recipients' declining health or abilities.The project also documented substantial caregiver-perceived rewards for efforts, such as relationship benefits, keeping care recipients at home, and security in the quality of care that recipients received.

"The findings from this study underscore the importance of supporting caregivers to keep their loved ones at home, which is the preference of most people," said Susan Fox, the project's principal investigator. "The small amount of funding available to caregivers in this program provided a huge benefit to the caregiver, the care recipient, and the state in delaying or averting nursing home placement."

Transitions in Caregiving was funded by a grant awarded to the New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services by the U.S Administration on Aging's Nursing Home Diversion Cooperative Agreement/Community Living Program. For more information, visit