Family support in late life: A review of the literature on aging, disability, and family caregiving.

Peer-reviewed article
(2016 Sep) Journal of Family Social Work, 19 348-395


Grossman BR, Webb CE


For older adults and people with disabilities in the United States, family caregiving is an important part of remaining at home and in the community. As care recipients and caregivers age, family dynamics change, and the health, social, and financial impacts of this (largely unremunerated) work have implications for individuals, families, and social policy. In this review, the authors map the literature across multiple fields related to disability and aging to understand caregiving in late life, what it means to be an older caregiver and/or to care for older people. The authors summarize the findings of 97 articles to address the care, services, and supports family caregivers provide for older adults; negative and positive impacts for caregivers serving in this role; supports that family members use or need; and societal impact of family caregiving. Much of the literature describes the work family caregivers provide and negative impacts of caregiving. Less attention is devoted to caregiving benefits, supports used by family caregivers, and societal impacts. The authors conclude with an agenda for future research that attends to the need for research that includes: more diverse samples, new types of caregivers, longitudinal data, qualitative data and analysis, and comparative research.