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Psychol Aging. 2001 Jun;16(2):217-26.

Relationship quality and potentially harmful behaviors by spousal caregivers: how we were then, how we are now. The Family Relationships in Late Life Project.

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Department of Psychology, Universitiy of Georgia, Athens 30602, USA.


Structured interview data from 142 caregivers (98 wives, 44 husbands) indicate that more depressed caregivers are more likely to treat their spouses in potentially harmful ways. However, consistent with hypotheses derived from communal relationships theory, when the preillness relationship between caregiver and care recipient was characterized by mutual responsiveness to each other's needs (i.e., was more communal), caregivers were less depressed and less frequently engaged in potentially harmful behaviors. These effects were not attributable to demographic factors, amount of care provided, care recipient dementia status, or length of time in the caregiving role. Rather, multivariate analyses suggest that the extent to which premorbid relationships were communal in nature determines whether caregivers perceive their current relationships as rewarding, which, in turn, predicts caregiver depression and potentially harmful behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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