PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL
ASPECTS OF CAREGIVING
For more than a decade there has been extensive investigation of the caregiving experience, particularly the fact or sense of 'burden'. Usually this construct has been assessed using burden scales, but understanding of the impacts and experience of caregiving has been limited by inconsistencies in the definitions of burden and in the conceptualisation of caregiving as burdensome. Understandably, burden scales measure only the stressful, difficult aspects of caregiving, so those that give satisfaction have traditionally been ignored.
In the literature 'objective' and 'subjective' burdens are distinguished. The distinction theoretically is that objective burden includes disruptions or changes which are potentially verifiable, whereas subjective burden encompasses carers' personal responses to and feelings about these disruptions or changes. 1 In this chapter we present both the objective or physical and the subjective or emotional aspects of caregiving. The physical aspects we consider are living arrangements, duration and hours of care, help with physical and instrumental activities of daily living, and household tasks. The emotional aspects are carers' attitudes towards the caregiving role and the person they are caring for, the quality of the relationship between carer and recipient, the carer's ease or difficulty in coping with behaviour problems, and changes in the family environment since caregiving started. In each area we have included positive and negative items.