Caring for a Child with Learning Disabilities Over a Prolonged Period of Time: An Exploratory Survey on the Experiences and Health of Older Parent Carers Living in Scotland




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Peer reviewed


Background The negative health impacts of prolonged caregiving are widely reported. However, there is a paucity of evidence concerning the impacts of a lifetime of caring on older parents of offspring with learning disabilities. Design and Methods An exploratory postal survey including the Medical Outcome Study (Short Form) 36 version 2 (SF-36v2) was completed by 100 older parent carers. The reported survey is part of a larger mixed method study including in-depth interviews. Results The majority of respondents (n = 91) reported caring for 50 h or more per week with multiple caregiving duties. While the SF-36v2 reported physical health of older parent carers to be similar to UK norms, their ental health was significantly reduced. Implications for practice These important findings highlight the vulnerability of ageing parents of offspring with learning disabilities. This previously underreported situation warrants further investigation and urgent attention from health and social care agencies and professionals.



caregiving, dependent son/daughter, health, learning disability, older parent carers


Cairns et al. (2013) Caring for a child with learning disabilities over a prolonged period of time: An exploratory survey on the experiences and health of older parent carers living in Scotland. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, online first


Research Institute

Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care