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Dissertation

Caregiver Burden, Self-Perceptions, and Aging

5 March 2018

Abstract

Providing care for an individual who has a form of dementia is a very difficult task. Informal caregivers may experience symptoms of caregiver burden, such as depression or chronic pain. Many of these susceptible caregivers (adult children, spouses) are aging into the geriatric population. While it is thought that caregivers with higher levels of social support and resilience experience less burden than individuals with lower levels of both, there is little research regarding how caregiver burden may affect how caregivers view their own aging process. Research suggests that individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging are more likely to age successfully (e.g., able to engage in meaningful activities). This study examines how this experience shapes a caregiver’s view of their own aging process in order to barriers that these individuals may face and to help them age successfully, regardless of negative caregiving experiences.

A literature review describes the effect burden has on caregivers, how self-perceptions of aging are developed and how they affect aged individuals. This study examines how burden effects self-perceptions of aging and if social support and resiliency mediate this relationship. Results indicated that caregiver burden negatively affects the caregiver’s self-perception of aging, and social support moderated this relationship, while resiliency did not. Study findings suggested that caregivers with higher levels of social support experience less burden and higher perceptions of aging. Furthermore, caregivers who provide fewer hours of care had lower levels of burden and higher perceptions of aging. These findings are examined in further detail in the results and conclusion sections of this dissertation.


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