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Keywords:

  • burnout;
  • family caregivers;
  • interference;
  • personal gratification;
  • strain

Using data from the 2004 wave of the National Long-Term Care Survey, we examined how negative and positive caregiving experiences differ by caregivers' gender and relationship to care recipients. We further considered how their caregiving experiences are affected by caregivers' demographic characteristics, care recipients' problem behavior and dependency, caregivers' involvement, reciprocal help from care recipients, and social support available for caregivers. We found that female and adult-child caregivers, in general, reported having had more negative experiences than male and spouse caregivers, respectively. Wife caregivers were least likely to report positive experiences. We also found different risk factors for negative and positive caregiving experiences, and these factors varied depending on caregivers' gender and relationship to the care recipient. The findings underscore the heterogeneity of caregiving experiences. To sustain informal care, state and local agencies need to tailor services to wife, husband, daughter, and son caregivers' unique needs.