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Trajectories of family care over the lifecourse: evidence from Canada

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Document pages: 18 pages

Abstract: In the midst of a ‘care crisis’, attention has turned again to families who are viewed both as untapped care resources and as disappearing ones. Within this apparent policy demographic impasse, we test empirically theorised trajectories of family care, creating evidence of diverse patterns of care across the lifecourse. The study sample, drawn from a Statistics Canada national survey of family care, comprised all Canadians aged 65 and older who had ever provided care (N = 3,299). Latent Profile Analysis yielded five distinct care trajectories: compressed generational, broad generational, intensive parent care, career care and serial care. They differed in age of first care experience, number of care episodes, total years of care and amount of overlap among episodes. Trajectories generally corresponded to previously hypothesised patterns but with additional characteristics that added to our understanding of diversity in lifecourse patterns of care. The five trajectories identified provide the basis for further understanding how time and events unfold in various ways across lifecourses of care. A gap remains in understanding how relationships with family and social network members evolve in the context of care. A challenge is presented to policy makers to temper a ‘families by stealth’ policy approach with one that supports family carers who are integral to health and social care systems.

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