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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2011 Nov;66(6):653-64. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbr041. Epub 2011 Jul 6.

Effects of daily stressors on the psychological and biological well-being of spouses of persons with mild cognitive impairment.

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  • 1Center for Gerontology, 237 Wallace Hall (0426), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.



This research documents spousal accounts of daily symptoms and behaviors of their husbands or wives with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and assesses how MCI-related symptoms and care needs are associated with spouse care partners' psychological well-being and biomarkers of physiological wear and tear.


Thirty spouse care partners participated in a 7-day diary study and reported on behavior problems associated with MCI as well as daily stressors and strains they experienced. They also provided saliva samples on 4 of the study days.


Multilevel models revealed daily variability and change in psychological affect and the diurnal cortisol rhythm. Daily primary stressors, everyday secondary strains, and marital interactions predicted these changes.


The findings document the negative physiological effects of having a spouse with MCI and provide new details on probable causes of psychological and biological distress. They shed light on MCI-specific interventions to address couples' needs before severe disease progression occurs that could interfere with spouses' ability to provide home-based care and support.

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