Personal and Social Resources and Well Being among Informal Care Recipients

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Virginia Tech

Moving beyond a focus on primary caregivers only, we examined the effects on older adults’ psychological well-being of having multiple family or friend helpers and of other elements of social support when receiving informal assistance. This research is grounded in a model of well being (Fisher et al., 1983) positing that most aid situations contain a mixture of positive and negative elements. If receiving help highlights inferiority or dependency, aid will be viewed as self-threatening; if assistance avoids contributing to negative self-images, it will be seen as self-supportive. Values held about support and dependency affect reactions to aid, as do social resources manifested in the helping situation. Data, from 359 community-residing elders, include 6 personal resources, 6 social resources, Depression (CES-D), 4 Ryff Well Being subscales, Rosenberg Self-esteem, and Quality of Life. Regression models explained between 9% and 28% of variance in indicators of psychological well being. Findings suggest that the social context of receiving help is not particularly influential in well being, but personal characteristics have fundamental influence on happiness. Informal assistance does not threaten sense of self.