Pathways of Adult Children Providing Care to Older Parents


  • This article was edited by Deborah S. Carr.

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, 122 Heritage Hall, Menomonie, WI 54751 (


Guided by life course and stress process theory, this study investigated pathways of adult child caregivers' family (caregiving, marital, parenting) and nonfamily (employment) roles. Eight waves of data from the Health and Retirement Study were analyzed for 1,300 adult child caregivers. Latent class analysis provided strong evidence for a 4-class model of caregivers' role pathways. The four pathways were (a) Not-Married, Early-Transition to Not-Working Caregivers (34%), (b) Married, Not-Working Caregivers (26%), (c) Married, Late-Transition to Not-Working Caregivers (23%), and (d) Married, Not-Working Caregivers with Coresiding Child (17%). Caregivers' background characteristics and contexts predicted pathway membership. Adult child caregivers have structurally diverse life pathways that have implications for theory, research, and practice.