By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

black caregiver

Caregivers of black stroke survivors spend more time helping and have a more positive perception of caregiving than those who care for whites, according to new research.

“Our findings surprised me,” said Lesli Skolarus, M.D., associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Despite the greater time commitment of caregivers of black stroke survivors, there was no evidence that caregivers of black stroke survivors perceived this time commitment as burdensome compared to caregivers of white stroke survivors.”

Researchers used the National Health and Aging Trends Study and its companion, the National Study of Caregiving, in a cross-sectional study of 581 white and 225 black, elderly stroke survivors and their paid and unpaid caregivers.

They found that 62 percent of black stroke survivors have a caregiver and get an average 31.7 hours of help per week compared to 49.7 percent of white stroke survivors with caregivers who receive 20.5 hours of help per week.

For black stroke survivors, care was one and half times more likely to be provided by a child, three times more likely to be provided by a grandchild and nearly two times more likely to be provided by a friend than for white stroke survivors.

In addition, caregivers of black stroke survivors reported more than a 10 percent increase in positive aspects of caregiving compared to caregivers of white stroke survivors.

Caregivers of black stroke survivors were less likely to be married and more likely to have a child younger than 18 than caregivers of white stroke survivors.

Unmet needs relate to self-care, mobility and activities such as going without eating, bathing, washing up or getting dressed, wetting or soiling clothing, immobility within the home and not being able to leave home.

Positive aspects of caregiving include developing more confidence in one’s ability, learning how to deal with difficult situations, getting closer to the care recipient and satisfaction that the recipient is well cared for.

“Despite the positive aspects of caregiving noted by caregivers of black stroke survivors in our study, the magnitude of the time commitment calls for further research to determine if other negative consequences, such as decreased health or restricted economic opportunities, accrue to caregivers of black stroke survivors,” Skolarus said.

By 2030, an additional 3.4 million U.S. adults 18 years and older are projected to have a stroke — a 20.5 percent increase in prevalence from 2012.

The study is published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.