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Relationships Among Caregiver Factors and Quality of Life in Care Recipients with Irreversible Dementia

Burgener, Sandy; Twigg, Prudence

Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders: April-June 2002 - Volume 16 - Issue 2 - p 88-102

Using Lawton's (1983) model of quality of life (QoL) in older adults as a guiding framework, the central purpose of this ongoing longitudinal, prospective study is to examine predictors of QoL outcomes in persons with irreversible dementia as they move through the disease stages. From an initial sample of 96 caregiver/care recipient pairs, 73 (N = 146) pairs remain at the 18-month data collection point. Changes in care recipient outcomes from baseline to the 18-month assessment include significant declines in mental status, productive behaviors, and functional ability, with a statistically significant improvement in depression. Controlling for 12-month mental ability, caregiver factors at 12 months predicting care recipient QoL outcomes at 18 months include psychologic well being predicted by the quality of the relationship with the caregiver and activity participation. Depression was predicted by activity participation as well. Care recipient functional ability was predicted by activity participation and caregiver role stress (disruption to routines and social functioning). Two of the three aspects of care recipient productive behaviors were predicted by caregiver factors, with quality of the relationship predicting problem solving and caregiver role stress (negative attitudes toward care recipient) and total social contacts predicting care recipient social behaviors in the expected direction. Lawton's QoL model was supported by this analysis, with a total explained variance of 32% for three (psychologic well being, productive behaviors, functional ability) of the five (physical impairment and perceived personal control not included) components of care recipient QoL outcomes.

College of Nursing, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, U.S.A.

Received August 11, 2000.

Accepted February 13, 2002.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Sandy Burgener, University of Illinois, College of Nursing, 408 S. Goodwin, Room 340, Urbana, Illinois 61801, U.S.A.; e-mail:

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.