Support for Older Parents in Need in Europe: The Role of the Social Network and of Individual and Relational Characteristics

Liora Cohen*, Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra, Bracha Erlich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: Adult children form the backbone of informal care for older parents. To date, limited attention has been paid to the complex mechanism of providing support to older parents. The present study investigated mezzo- and micro-level correlates of provision of support to older parents. The focus was on the child-parent relationship in childhood and in the present. Research Design and Methods: Data were derived from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The analytic sample comprised respondents who participated in SHARE Waves 6-8 and reported having an unhealthy mother (N = 1,554) or father (N = 478). We used hierarchical logistic regression to address 3 models including individual resources, child-parent characteristics, and social resources. We conducted separate analyses for mothers and fathers. Results: Providing support to a parent depended primarily on personal resources followed by the quality of the relationship with the parent. A larger social network of the care provider was also related to increased likelihood of providing support. Support to a mother was associated with positive evaluations of the relationship with her in the present and in childhood. At the same time, negative evaluations of the relationship with the father in childhood were negatively related to providing support to him. Discussion and Implications: The findings point to a multidimensional mechanism, in which adult children's resources are a prominent factor in shaping caregiving behaviors toward their parents. Clinical efforts should focus on adult children's social resources and the quality of the child-parent relationship.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberigad032
Pages (from-to)igad032
JournalInnovation in Aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.


  • Child-parent relationship
  • Informal care


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