Informal caregivers often experience high stress levels with little support, especially in rural settings. With a mixed-methods approach, this research explored experiences of rural informal caregivers, including how social identification as a caregiver, social interactions, and formal and informal coping support related to perceived stress. Major focus group themes (n = 8) included lacking available services, balancing challenges, unmet practical needs, and strong community identity. Survey data (n = 22) revealed that perceived coping support (e.g., having someone to turn to), social interactions, and caregiver identity (e.g., perceiving the role as important to one's self-concept) were associated with lower life upset stress, but only caregiver identity was associated with managing the personal distress and negative feelings associated with caregiving stress. Results suggest that, although available rural services may fall short, other options might alleviate caregiver stress, including facilitating access to coping support, encouraging social interactions, and enhancing caregiver social identity.

aging, caregiving, coping, identity, stress, support
Canadian Journal on Aging
Department of Health Sciences

Carroll, L. (Lisa), Chippior, J. (Jessica), Karmali, S. (Shazya), Sriram, D. (Deepika), & Ysseldyk, R. (2018). We Are Caregivers: Social Identity Is Associated with Lower Perceived Stress among Rural Informal Caregivers. Canadian Journal on Aging. doi:10.1017/S0714980818000430