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Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2010 Jan-Mar;24(1):49-55. doi: 10.1097/WAD.0b013e3181bd66a3.

Relationship satisfaction and emotional language in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer disease patients and spousal caregivers.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


We studied the impact of 2 types of dementia on marital satisfaction and on the emotional language that spouses use during conflictive marital interactions. Fifteen frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and 16 Alzheimer disease (AD) patient-caregiver couples, and 21 control couples, discussed a relationship problem in a laboratory setting. Marital satisfaction was assessed through questionnaire, and emotion language was quantified using text analysis. FTD couples reported lower marital satisfaction than AD and control couples. During the interactions, FTD and AD caregivers used significantly more negative emotion words than their patient spouses (no spousal differences were found in control couples). FTD caregivers also used more negative words than AD caregivers and controls. We interpret these findings as reflecting challenges that the behavioral changes in FTD create for maintaining a healthy marital bond.

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