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Stress and health in spouses of people with early-stage Alzheimer's disease: The effects of a memory training intervention - 2010 AAR/DCRC-CC Joint PhD Research Scholarship

Ms Linda McAuliffe, Prof Rhonda Nay
Research Centre DCRC Carers and Consumers
Partner Institution Alzheimer's Australia, La Trobe University
Project Description

The stress and burden caregivers experience when caring for a relative experiencing dementia can have deleterious effects on their psychological and physical health. These effects are exacerbated in caregivers who report high levels of stress. Recent research suggests that it is not necessarily the stressor per se that is important but rather how that stressor is perceived by the caregiver. As caregivers' sense of personal mastery (control over their situation) can impact on perceived levels of stress, it is expected that interventions for caregivers that are designed to increase personal mastery should have a positive effect on these outcomes. As interventions need to be targeted in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) in order to be effective, and many people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) will go on to develop AD, people with MCI and their spouses are ideal candidates.

The project aims to investigate:

(a) the predictors of stress in spouses of people with MCI by evaluating the relationship between spousal perceived stress, levels of depression and sense of personal mastery; and

(b) the effect on perceived levels of stress, emotional status and quality of life of an intervention designed to increase personal mastery in spouses of people with MCI.

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