Compassionate Love in Individuals With Alzheimer's Disease and Their Spousal Caregivers: Associations With Caregivers' Psychological Health

Joan K Monin, Richard Schulz, Brooke C Feeney
Gerontologist 2015, 55 (6): 981-9

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: To examine whether compassionate love in both individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and their spousal caregivers related to less caregiving burden, more positive caregiving appraisals, and less depressive symptoms for caregivers.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Fifty-eight individuals with AD and their spousal caregivers participated in interviews in which both partners reported their compassionate love for their partner, and caregivers self-reported burden, positive appraisals of caregiving, and depressive symptoms.

RESULTS: As hypothesized, both AD individuals' and caregivers' compassionate love were associated with less burden and more positive appraisals of caregiving. Also, care givers' compassionate love mediated the association between AD individuals' compassionate love and caregivers' burden as well as the association between AD individuals' compassionate love and caregivers' positive appraisals of caregiving. Finally, there was a marginally significant association between caregivers' compassionate love and less caregiver depressive symptoms.

IMPLICATIONS: Results suggest that AD individuals' compassionate love is related to compassionate love in caregivers, which in turn relates to reduced burden but not significantly less depressive symptoms for caregivers. Assessing caregivers' and AD individuals' feelings of compassionate love may be useful in identifying caregivers who are resilient and those who are at a heightened risk for caregiving burden. Also, interventions that enhance both partners' compassionate love may benefit caregivers.

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