© 2014 Taylor & Francis. Objectives: Depression is a leading mental health issue affecting elderly individuals worldwide. Previous research widely neglects caregiver emotional stress as a probable contributing factor of depression in the elderly. This study investigated caregiver emotional stress as a chronic life stressor of an elderly care recipient using the life stress paradigm as the theoretical foundation.Methods: The relationships between caregiver emotional stress and care receiver depressive symptoms, as well as other social and psychological mediation factors, were investigated using the 2004 wave of the National Long-Term Care Study (NLTCS). The NLTCS is a nationally representative longitudinal study used to identify frail and disabled elderly Medicare recipients living in the United States. The analytic sample of this study included 1340 caregiver-care receiver dyads who were asked a series of questions concerning their mental health (i.e. emotional stress and depressive symptoms), as well as the availability of social and psychological resources.Results: Overall, the results showed that high levels of emotional stress reported by the caregiver were associated with a higher likelihood of the disabled care receiver reporting depressive symptoms.Conclusion: The findings of this investigation point to the importance of studying caregivers and care receivers as dyads as the stress associated with the caregiving role affects each member.