Caregiver Physical Health Assessments

Not surprisingly, one’s ability to provide care is largely dependent upon one’s physical health.  Caregiving tasks can be physically very demanding when one considers activities such as heavy housework, bathing, yardwork, and lifting.  Caregivers, who themselves have functional limitations, may be unable to provide the necessary care (Deimling, 1986; Whitlatch et al., 1999).  Continued caregiving may also exacerbate existing health conditions leading to premature declines in physical health (Kurtz et al., 2004; Pinquart & Sørensen, 2007; Schulz & Beach, 1999).  Furthermore, the physical strain of caregiving places the caregiver at an increased risk of injury and illness (Kurtz et al., 2004; Pinquart & Sørensen, 2007; Schulz & Beach, 1999).

Caregiver Subjective Physical Health

  • Measures caregiver’s perception of physical health status.
  • 4 items (3-point scale)
  • Whitlatch, C. J., Feinberg, L. F., & Stevens, E. J. (1999). Predictors of institutionalization for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and the impact on family caregivers. Journal of Mental Health and Ageing, 5, 275-288.

General Health Perceptions Scale

  • Measures self-reported physical health. Tool not designed specifically for caregivers.
  • 5 items (scale ranging from 0 to 100)
  • Ware Jr., J. E., Snow, K. K., Kosinski, M., & Gandek, B. (1993). The SF-36 Health Survey manual and interpretation guide. Boston: The Health Institute, New England Medical Center.

General Health Survey Questionnaire Short Form 36 (SF-36)

  • Measures 8 domains: physical functioning, role limitations due to physical health problems, bodily pain, general health, vitality, social functioning, role limitations due to emotional problems, and mental health.  Tool not designed specifically for caregivers.
  • 36 items (2-point, 3-point, 5-point, 6-point scales)
  • Ware Jr., J. E., Snow, K. K., Kosinski, M., & Gandek, B. (1993). The SF-36 Health Survey manual and interpretation guide. Boston: The Health Institute, New England Medical Center.

General Health Survey Questionnaire Short Form 12 (SF-12)

  • A shortened version of the SF-36.
  • 12 items (2-point, 3-point, 5-point, 6-point scales)
  • Ware Jr., J. E., Snow, K. K., Kosinski, M., & Gandek, B. (1993). The SF-36 Health Survey manual and interpretation guide. Boston: The Health Institute, New England Medical Center.

Perceived Health Index

  • Measures both caregiver and care recipient perceptions of self-health status with items that assess worry, exhaustion, aches, and pains.
  • 4 items (5-point scale)
  • Deimling, G. T., & Bass, D. M. (1986). The strengths and resources of families caring for impaired elders: Report to The Retirement Research Foundation: The Benjamin Rose Institute.

Physical Health Deterioration

  • Measures caregiver perceptions about whether they are sick more often, have more aches and pains, feel physically worse, tend to be more nervous, and have less energy.
  • 5 items (4-point scale)
  • Deimling, G. T., & Bass, D. M. (1986). Symptoms of mental impairment among elderly adults and their effects on family caregivers. Journal of Gerontology, 41, 778-784.

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