Master's Theses


Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


As life expectancy begins to increase, the need for familial caregivers is growing. The aging of care recipients often means that those providing care continue to get older as well. Previous studies focus little on the differences between older and younger caregivers and rather combine them all into one group. The purpose of this study is to understand whether the caregiving experience is related to the age of the caregiver. Depression, burden, and social engagement, based on the descriptors of leisure, work, and social relationships, were studied in conjunction with the age of the caregivers. This study consisted of 63 caregivers divided by age into groups of individuals under age 65 (n = 45) and individuals aged 65 or older (n = 18). Data for this project was collected through an online survey which was distributed to individuals in caregiving groups and on social media. It was then analyzed utilizing appropriate statistical measures including Pearson Correlations and multiple t-tests. It was hypothesized that social engagement has a negative association with depression which was found significant. The predictions that younger caregivers and older caregivers would engage in different kinds of leisure activities and have spent different amounts of time in leisure each week were not supported by the data of this study. However, a significant relationship was found regarding the hypotheses between burden and depression in caregivers, as well as between age and burden. The findings of this study imply that to help improve mental health outcomes for caregivers, providers should focus on increasing the amount and quality of social engagement in which caregivers engage. Recommendations for reducing burden and improving outcomes are made based on these findings.


Dr. Stephanie Weigel

Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type



© 2023 Danielle Leigh Forbes


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