This study of 349 elderly caregivers explored mediators of the caregiving/ stress relationship for caregivers to adults with (n = 106), and without (n = 243) dementia.
Results confirm previous findings of lower stress among nondementia caregivers and suggest that different factors influence caregivers’ appraisal of the situation, including their perception of stress, based on recipients’ dementia status.
In conclusion, this study found that a mediation model resulted in different factors being associated with perceived stress in elderly women caregivers, depending on the dementia status of the care recipient. These results emphasize the need to develop research agendas and intervention efforts that address the distinct needs of dementia and nondementia caregivers. Elderly dementia caregivers would benefit from direct, instrumental help and time away from caregiving. However, for some caregivers, the appraisal of the caregiving situation is more meaningful than the actual objective experiences such as the number of hours per day spent providing care. This finding suggests that older women who are nondementia caregivers may be served better by psychosocial interventions that help them to restructure their appraisal of the caregiving situation than by interventions targeted at alleviating the direct demands of the caregiving role (e.g., providing respite). Prospective studies are needed to evaluate the effects of these factors on perceived stress over time. As reported in this study, caregivers to adults with dementia report greater stress than other caregivers. Moreover, not only do they report experiencing greater care-related factors such as longer caregiving hours and help with more activities of daily living/instrumental activities of daily living tasks, their appraisal of the caregiving situation is also unique from other caregivers.