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Chapter 13

SOC375 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Tax Deduction, Cardiovascular Disease, Invisibility

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Kwame Boadu

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Chapter 13- Social Support
Informal Supports for Older People
- Social support- the help and assistance people give to one another
o Helps older people cope with aging and improve their quality of life and well-being
- 2 types of social support:
o Formal support- paid support from professional caregivers, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, and
homecare workers; used most commonly by the very old (who are also most often more severely disabled or
**Majority of Canadians use formal homecare services
People pay for formal supports either from their own resources or through their taxes
o Informal support- unpaid support from family, friends, neighbours, and others in the community
Informal caregivers- unpaid care providers with a tie of kinship or affection toward the care receiver
1 in 5 Canadians aged 45+ report providing some type of care/assistance to an older family
member or friend
**70-80% of informal support comes from family and friends
2/3s of all the care provided is by the informal sector (but often working together with formal
People use informal support more often for everyday help (ex. giving them rides, housecleaning,
yard work, etc.)
Can also help an older person cope with everyday activities, a personal crisis, adjust to a change in
health, or locate a formal service
After spouses, children are the most important source of social support
- Gerontologists refer to the amount of resources available to a person, including social support, as their life course
capital or social capital; begins at a young age
o Amount of social capital available to a person changes over time and differs for each individual
o Note that older men, compared with older women, have smaller support networks men receive less
informal support from non-spousal supporters
o Not all strong ties provide support
- Women provide the majority of informal support, especially in cases of high-intensity care
o Older care recipients are also more likely to be women
- Social policies now favour a mix of informal and formal care
o Studies show that people usually turn to the formal system only after the informal system no longer meets
their needs
But those who make extensive use of formal services still rely on their informal care network
Caregiving networks vary significantly in size, proximity, and composition by gender,
relationship, and age
Few older people who live in the community are without some close supportive ties
Formal care services are sought when a person has an incomplete network or when a
person has high healthcare needs
o Ideally, informal and formal supports work together to share the overall load
o Formal care tends to increase with age
- Older people and policy makers differ in their view of care of older people
o Policy makers often believe that informal supports give older people more control over their lives
Need to recognize the significant costs (both financial and health-related) in the caregiving role
o But many older people feel that family support makes them more dependent and a burden on their families;
feel that failies should’t proide housig, fiaial support, or persoal are
- 4 models describe the way people use informal supports:
o Task specificity model- model of social support that contends different groups (of family, friends,
neighbours) have different abilities and offer different types of support, each playing a specific role
Spouse might provide companionship, while adult children provided everyday support, and friends
act as confidants
o Hierarchical compensatory model- model of social support that contends people choose their supports from
their inner family circle (ex. spouse or children) and then move outward to get support from less-intimate
people (ex. siblings or friends, then neighbours or formal supports) as they need more help
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o Functional specificity of relationships model- model of social support that contends a family or friendship tie
may provide one type of support or a broad range of support, depending on the particular relationship
between the caregiver and the care receiver
People negotiate their relationships and support based in part on the history of their relationship
**Study found support for this model siblings provide a range of social support for certain groups
(single women, the childless, single men, and widowed women), but provide little support for
divorced and married men
Siblings also provide give support when they live nearby, tend to serve as companions and
confidants, and they more often provide practical support to sisters than to brothers
o Convoy model of support- model that describes social support as a network of close family and friends who
travel together throughout life, exchanging social support and assistance; use close ties first
- **2 conditions lead to the use of formal supports along with informal supports:
o Some older people have incomplete informal networks and need specific kinds of help (ex. someone to shop
for them or clean their home)
o Some older people who have intact networks have high health care needs
Children as a Source of Informal Support
- Adult children tend to stay in touch with their parents and provide support when needed which may lead to stress in
the adult hild’s life
- Marital status of adult children influences their level of involvement with older parents
o Those who are married are less likely to keep in touch with their parents; also less likely to provide financial,
emotional, or practical support
o If mother is divorced, children will still provide support to them know matter what
o If father is divorced, children are less likely to provide support for them more likely to be remarried
- Daughters provide care more often than sons (even working daughters with children) report greater feelings of
- Studies show that adult children and their parents see the amount of support provided by the children differently
older people feel they receive less support than their children say they give
o **Developmental (or generational) stake- the idea that, compared with their children, older people have a
greater investment in the relationship with their children (and thus have more to lose if it fails)
o May de-emphasize the amount of support they receive in order to not see themselves as a burden on their
- Intergenerational interaction has grown in intensity and complexity
o Today, people spend more years as an adult child of living parents than as parents of young children
Financial Support for Caregivers: Pros and Cons (**know controversies)
- **Canada offers a number of financial supports to caregivers offer some compensation for the economic costs
incurred, including:
o Indirect payments (such as federal tax deduction and tax credits)
o Employment insurance benefits (but few take advantage of the Compassionate Care Benefit program)
Provide compassionate-care benefit for a caregiver who needs to take time off work to care for
soeoe ho’s graely ill
o **Some provinces (Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec) provide family members a caregier’s age/alloance –
financial payment to family caregivers to assist them in their caregiving role; have 3 goals:
To reward caregivers for their efforts
To help with the cost of caregiving
To delay institutionalization of the older person
- Some argue that payment to family members strengthens family values, while other claim that payment exploits
family members who have little choice but to accept the job
- Policy makers worry that payment will lead to fraud and abuse of the program and exploitation of the older person;
ould also irease the goeret’s ost of arig for older people
o Policies that govern eligibility can control overuse of such a program
- Studies suggest that financial support helps caregivers cope only with the economic costs still experience more
personal cost than caregivers who get home help
- Study looked at the programs different countries use to compensate family caregivers and concluded:
o Poor financial compensation may further devalue family caregiving
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