This mixed methods study examines how physical and nutritional health behaviours compare between married older adults (aged 65+) caregiving for their spouse and older married non-caregivers, with attention to differences between men and women. Using data from the 2008-2009 Canadian Community Health Survey, Healthy Aging module, hierarchical regression analyses were performed to investigate the association between spousal caregiving and engagement in regular physical activity and healthy eating among married older adults (N = 5,579). Qualitative interviews were also conducted with 14 older spousal caregivers to contextualize the survey findings. Integrated results indicate a potential healthy caregiver effect, especially among women, in relation to increased caregiving physical activity. However, the impact of spousal caregiving on health behaviours is complex and influenced by gender, caregiving intensity and time. Leisure and nutritional health behaviours are negatively affected by the demands of caregiving. Study implications are relevant for caregiver interventions, community programs, and healthy public policy.
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Thesis advisor: Mitchell, Barbara
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