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Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2011 Jun;25(3):220-2. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2011.02.003. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

Marriage and mental health: when a spouse has Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL.


When spouses suffer from memory disorders, caregivers are at high risk for negative mental health consequences. The purpose of this pilot study was to identify factors within marital relationships that increase risk for caregiver burden and depression. PARTICIPANTS/SAMPLING: Caregivers (5 men and 11 women) and their partners with Alzheimer's disease were English speaking, age 55 and older and living in the community. Caregivers were cognitively intact and spouses had moderate cognitive impairment.


This was a descriptive correlational study. Martial quality was rated by caregivers (CG) using the Marital Quality Index. Caregiver burden was measured by the Zarit Burden Interview and depression was measured by the 20-item Center for Epidemiological Studies- Depression Scale (CES-D).


Spouses who rated their marriage as strong and satisfying experienced less burden than spouses who rated their marriage more negatively (r = -.464, p <.01).


Individuals with Alzheimer's disease are often cared for by spouse caregivers who may become overburdened and depressed. Findings suggest that spouses who were inexperienced caregivers were most vulnerable to negative outcomes and therefore a population warranting closer scrutiny.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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