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Caregiving - Informal

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Theory & Types of FamiliesCaregiving - Formal, Informal


There has been increasing awareness in both the popular and scientific literatures about the roles that families play in providing care to a relative with a chronic illness and/or a functional impairment. About three-quarters of caregivers are women who tend to provide hands-on care as compared to men who provide care management (Hooyman and Gonyea 1995). Such informal caregiving often allows ill family members to remain at home or to live in a community residence rather than be hospitalized or institutionalized. The value of such care to society has been estimated to be significant and without its provision, professional care would be needed. Although families report many positive effects of their caregiving experience, including feelings of satisfaction, effectiveness, gratification, and love (Veltman, Cameron, and Stewart 2002; Walker, Shin, and Bird 1990), caregiving can also be a source of stress for family caregivers and can result in negative health and mental health outcomes for the caregivers (Friesen 1996).

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