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The impact of dementia-related stressors and strains have been examined for their potential to threaten the well-being of either the person with dementia or the family care partner, but rarely have studies considered the dyadic nature of well-being in dementia. The purpose of this study was to examine the dyadic effects of multiple dimensions of strain on the well-being of dementia care dyads.
Using multilevel modeling to account for the inter-relatedness of individual well-being within dementia care dyads, we examined cross-sectional responses collected from 42 dyads comprised of a hospitalized patient diagnosed with a primary progressive dementia (PWD) and their family care partner (CP). Both PWDs and CPs self-reported on their own well-being using measures of quality of life (QOL-Alzheimer’s Disease scale) and depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale).
In adjusted models, the PWD’s well-being (higher QOL and lower depressive symptoms) was associated with significantly less strain in the dyad’s relationship. The CP’s well-being was associated with significantly less care-related strain and (for QOL scale) less relationship strain.
Understanding the impact of dementia on the well-being of PWDs or CPs may require an assessment of both members of the dementia care dyad in order to gain a complete picture of how dementia-related stressors and strains impact individual well-being. These results underscore the need to assess and manage dementia-related strain as a multi-dimensional construct that may include strain related to the progression of the disease, strain from providing care, and strain on the dyad’s relationship quality.
The overall purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the major findings from our research over the past 11 years on spousal bereavement among older adults in the United States. We began in 1980 with a longitudinal study funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) designed to describe, from a multidisciplinary perspective, the process of adjustment that follows the death of a spouse, examine factors that influence the observed outcomes, and identify potential focuses and strategies for intervention. A sample of 192 recently bereaved spouses and a control group of 104 currently married adults over the age of 50 participated in the study. Findings from this project were used to develop a second study, also funded by NIA, to examine the effectiveness of selfhelp groups in facilitating the bereavement adjustment process. Another sample of 339 recently bereaved spouses participated in this intervention study, with 241 assigned to self-help groups and 98 assigned to a control condition.
In the late 1970s, the National Institute on Aging recognized that little or no empirical research on bereavement had been completed that specifically focused on older adults. Although some studies had included older adults in their samples, there was no systematic attempt to learn more about their bereavement experiences until NIA established bereavement and aging as a priority for research funding. Our first study was one of three that the institute initially supported.
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