Counting the cost: The contribution of older carers in Ireland and impact of caring on mental health and wellbeing of carers

Family caring plays an essential role in Ireland’s health system, but it does place social, financial, physical, and emotional demands on carers. Caring by older people has been shown to have benefits for health and longevity when providing lower numbers of hours of care. Less is known about why some carers seem to manage better than others with regards their long-term well-being. Understanding what carers need to support them is key to building community care. 

This study, using data collected through the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) will describe the proportion and characteristics of people caring in middle and older age (≥54 years), and investigate how they may differ from adults who don’t provide care. This study will also compare patterns of mental health and well-being over time in adult carers aged ≥54 years as they transition into and out of caring responsibilities and investigate how wellbeing may differ by level of social supports and formal care service supports received. TILDA also collected information during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and this will help us understand how the pandemic and associated restrictions in social interactions and formal care support services may have affected carers. We will carry out focus groups amongst groups of carers to further understand how the individual and community social and formal care service supports received by carers relates to their mental health and well-being. We will also try to understand how this interrelates with the needs of carers and care recipient, and whether these associations explain how some carers are more resilient than others. This study will inform how services and programmes can be strengthened to best support older carers. The study findings will also provide information that will inform the development of training and advocacy programmes for carers.

Award Date
01 July 2022
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Christine McGarrigle
Host Institution
HRCI-HRB Joint Funding Scheme