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Emotional and Tangible Reciprocity in Middle- and Older-Aged Carers of Adults With Intellectual Disabilities

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Keywords:

aging;caregiving; developmental disabilities;intellectual disabilities;support

Contact:

Elizabeth Perkins, PhD, RNMH

Abstract

Reciprocal benefits may exist in relationships between carers and their adult sons/daughters with intellectual disabilities, but the topic has not been widely studied. This study investigated whether older carers of adult children with intellectual disabilities perceive emotional and tangible reciprocity in their relationships and the association between perceived reciprocity with quality of life. The authors surveyed 91 parental carers (aged 50+ years, mean = 60.8). Bivariate correlations and hierarchical regression analyses assessed the relationship between tangible and emotional reciprocity and carer quality of life variables (physical and mental health, depressive symptomatology, life satisfaction) and carers' desire for an alternative residential situation of their son/daughter. Overall, more tangible and emotional support was given than received from their adult children. However, despite varying levels of intellectual disability and functional impairments of their care recipient, carers did report receiving considerable support. Relative disadvantage (i.e., giving more than received) in tangible reciprocity was associated with increased depressive symptomatology and poorer mental health but also reduced desire for seeking an alternative residential situation for the person for whom they are caring. These relationships were attenuated after covariance analyses. Emotional reciprocity was not associated with any of the outcome measures. The results suggest that perceptions of reciprocity are relevant in caregiving for intellectual disability and may be an underappreciated asset in coping with caregiving.

Citation

Perkins, E. A., & Haley, W. E. (2013). Emotional and tangible reciprocity in older caregivers of adults with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Policy & Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 10(4), 334-344.  doi:10.1111/jppi.12061

 

Faculty & Staff