In this critical review of the recent caregiving literature, we identify several methodological problems. Specifically noted are the variable and often confusing definitions of the caregiver, the lack of specification of needs, overrepresentation of self-selected samples, and the absence of attention to the total support network. We conclude that future researchers should focus on the total support process in later life, rather than on a single caregiver, so that policy can best be designed to mesh the informal and formal support systems.

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