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The Unique Experience of Caregivers Based on Their Life Stage and Relationship to the Patient 

The Unique Experience of Caregivers Based on Their Life Stage and Relationship to the Patient
Chapter:
The Unique Experience of Caregivers Based on Their Life Stage and Relationship to the Patient
Source:
Cancer Caregivers
Author(s):

Kristin Litzelman

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190868567.003.0003

Although caregivers are often thought of as middle-aged or older adults, cancer caregiving spans the life course. This chapter discusses the unique challenges of cancer caregiving across the life course—early adulthood (18–44 years of age); middle age (45–64 years); and older age (adults 65 years and older)—using data from the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and evidence from the extant literature. More than 4 in 10 cancer caregivers were in early adulthood. Another 4 in 10 were in middle age, and nearly 2 in 10 were in older adulthood. Normative developmental patterns differ at each life stage, with implications for supporting cancer caregivers in clinical and policy settings. Future research embracing a nuanced view of caregiving across the life course and across relationship type will enhance the ability to care for caregivers and improve cancer survivor and caregiver well-being.

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