Document Type

Article - post-print

Publication Date

Fall 2016


Objective: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adult caregivers may encounter obstacles in obtaining health and aging services due to discrimination in service and legal systems. The caregiving relationships in LGBT communities also differ from the general population in that friends are providing a large portion of informal care. This article examines how the relational context of caregiving relates to caregiving demands and resources, which in turn, influence perceived stress and depressive symptomatology among older LGBT caregivers.

Method: Using data from the National Health, Aging, and Sexuality Study: Caring and Aging with Pride, this study examines 451 participants who are providing caregiving to partners and friends. Structural equation modeling was applied to estimate the associations among the caregiver-care recipient relationship and caregiving demands, resources, perceived stress, and depressive symptomatology.

Results: On average, as compared with those caring for partners, those who provided care to friends reported experiencing lower levels of caregiving demands and lower levels of social support. The lower caregiving demands correlated positively with both lower perceived stress and less severe depressive symptomatology; however, the lower levels of social support were related to higher perceived stress and higher depressive symptomatology.

Conclusions: Caregiving provided by friends, which has long been under recognized, plays an important role in the LGBT community. Because lower levels of caregiving demands are offset by less social support, LGBT friend-caregivers experience similar levels of perceived stress and depressive symptomatology to those providing care to spouses and partners. Policy and service reforms are needed to better acknowledge the continuum of informal caregiving relationships.

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Sociology Commons