All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Olivio J Clay

Advisory Committee Members

Karlene K Ball

Michael Crowe

Patricia Drentea

Mieke B Thomeer McBride

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2021

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Aging adults (65 years and older) are projected to be the largest age group in the United States by around the year 2030. Importantly, the population of aging adults is expected to outnumber their adult children for the first time by the year 2033. The extant literature posits that the majority of carer-care-recipient relationships are between adult children/in law and their aging parent or a spouse/partner. Familial carers dealing with these multiple stressors are more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms, have higher appraisals of stress and have worse quality of life. This dissertation project utilized sociologist Pearlin’s Stress Process Model as a framework to examine the mental and physical health outcomes of familial carers of aging adult loved ones through an assessment of various carer stressors as well as the introduction of Bowlby & Ainsworth’s Attachment Theory as a potential buffer between carer stressors and outcomes. Therefore, using data from the Caring for Adults with Difficulties Study (CFAD), I (N =56, Black carers = 33 and White carers =23) explored the relationship between stressors and buffers on carer mental health outcomes. In, the end, the results of a series of linear regressions indicated that care-recipient disruptive behaviors (e.g., memory and iv behavioral problems) were associated with more depressive symptoms, worse quality of life and stronger appraisals of caregiver burden, p <.05. Further, it was found that secure attachment orientation, approach-avoidance for respite and caregiver self-efficacy for respite did predict caregiver burden, mental health component of quality life and depressive symptoms, p’s < .05. Lastly, it was found that perceptions of caregiver burden appraisals did statistically differ by caregiver-care-recipient relationship type and that pairwise comparisons indicated that adult-child/in law and spousal/partner had much more appraisal of the severity of care-recipient disruptive behaviors compared other caregivercare- recipient relationship types. All in all, the implication of these findings suggests that familial carer attachment orientation may be considered as a viable buffer between familiar carer stressors and mental health outcomes.

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