Dementia caregiver appraisal of the quality of their current and premorbid relationship with the care recipient is associated with caregiving behaviors, caregiver mood, and the decision to end home care. This study examined the contribution of premorbid relationship satisfaction to caregiver burden in dementia caregivers. Live-in dementia caregivers (n = 72) completed several psychosocial measures. Caregiver responses were used to divide them into low premorbid relationship satisfaction group (low) versus high premorbid relationship satisfaction group (high). Results indicate that premorbid relationship satisfaction is negatively associated with caregiver burden and quality of family functioning. Caregivers with high satisfaction demonstrated significantly less burden and less reactivity to memory and behavior problems, and better problem-solving skills and more effective communication compared with the low caregivers. Findings are independent of length of caregiving, disease severity, care recipient daily functioning, and relationship type. Relationship satisfaction may be an important contributor to caregiver burden.
In detail, results emphasize the potential value of considering quality of premorbid relationship factors in caregiver assessment and intervention. Taken together, these findings suggest premorbid relationship satisfaction may be an important contributor to caregiver burden. This is encouraging, as caregiver interventions that address specific attitudes and behaviors that may have contributed to premorbid relationship satisfaction may be appropriate targets for caregiver interventions. Modifying caregivers’ perceptions, attributions, and behaviors as they relate to longstanding relationship characteristics may positively impact the current relationship and thereby reduce caregivers’ perceptions of burden and stress.