Published: 06-05-2024 11:37 | Updated: 06-05-2024 11:47

Loneliness common among older informal caregivers

Double portrait of the authors behind the background report.
From left to right: Lena Dahlberg (photo Helmer McKee), Mariam Kirvalidze.

On behalf of the Swedish Gender Equality Agency, researchers Lena Dahlberg and Mariam Kirvalidze have done a scoping review of informal caregiving and loneliness. More specifically, the report examines loneliness in spousal carers aged 65 years and older, the factors that increase the risk of loneliness in this group, the consequences of loneliness, and how they themselves experience loneliness.

Loneliness is associated with low well-being and poor health. The report indicates that loneliness among spousal caregivers can involve emotional loneliness within the relationship with their partner, especially if the partner has dementia. 

"Loneliness can also result from social isolation or uncertainty in the role of being a caregiver. Further research is needed to explore differences among groups of spousal caregivers, such as women and men, or individuals with different educational background," says Lena Dahlberg, Professor at Dalarna University and affiliated with the Karolinska Institutet.

"Spousal caregivers usually bear most of the intensive care duties, attending to personal tasks with dedication, often sacrificing their social lives and needs. It's vital to implement targeted interventions to alleviate the caregiving burden experienced by spouses later in life", says Mariam Kirvalidze, PhD student at the Aging Research Center at Karolinska Institutet.

It's essential to recognize the impact of caregiving on mental health and consider targeted support for those providing care to their partners. Initiatives to alleviate the burden experienced by spouses later in life can significantly improve their well-being and quality of life.