Skip to main content

Factors Affecting the Emotional Wellbeing of the Caregivers of Dementia Sufferers

  • Robin G. Morris (a1), Lorna W. Morris (a1) and Peter G. Britton (a1)

Recent research on the factors that mediate the emotional wellbeing of the caregivers of dementia sufferers is reviewed. The roles of such factors as the caregiver's attributional style and coping strategies, the caregiver's relationship with the dementia sufferer, and levels of formal and informal support are discussed with reference to identifying those caregivers who are particularly vulnerable to emotional disorder or strain.

Corresponding author
Hide All
Abramson, L. Y., Seligman, M. E. P. & Teasdale, J. (1978) Learned helplessness in humans: critique and reformulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87, 4979.
Argyle, N., Jestice, S. & Brook, P. (1985) Psychogeriatric patients: their supporter's problems. Age and Ageing, 14, 355360.
Barnes, R. F., Raskind, M. A., Scott, M. & Murphy, C. (1981) Problems of families caring for Alzheimer patients: the use of a support group. Journal of the American Geriatrics Association, 29, 8085.
Benjamin, S., Decalmer, P. & Haran, D. (1982) Community screening for mental illness: a validity study of the General Health Questionnaire. British Journal of Psychiatry, 140, 174180.
Bergmann, K. & Jacoby, R. (1983) The limitation and possibilities of community care for the elderly demented. In Elderly People in the Community: Their Service Needs. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
Bergmann, K., Foster, E. M., Justice, A. W. & Mathews, V. (1978) Management of the demented elderly patient in the community. British Journal of Psychiatry, 132, 441449.
Berkman, L. F. (1983) The assessment of social networks and social support in the elderly. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 31, 743749.
Bowlby, J. (1980) Attachment and loss, vol. 3. New York: Basic Books.
Bradburn, N. M. (1969) The Structure of Psychological Wellbeing. Chicago: Aldine.
Brewin, C. R. (1984) Attributions for industrial accidents: their relationship to rehabilitation outcome. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2, 156164.
Brody, I. M. (1981) “Women in the middle” and family help to older people. Gerontologist, 21, 471480.
Brown, G. W., Bifulco, A. & Harris, T. O. (1987) Life events, vulnerability and the onset of depression: some refinements. British Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 3042.
Cantor, M. H. (1983) Strain among caregivers: a study of experience in the United States. Gerontologist, 23, 597604.
Caserta, M. S., Lund, D. A., Wright, S. D. & Redburn, D. E. (1987) Caregivers of dementia patients: the utilization of community services. Gerontologist, 27, 209214.
Challis, D. & Davies, B. (1986) Case Management in Community Care: an Evaluated Experiment in the Home Care of the Elderly. Aldershot: Gower.
Coppel, D. B., Burton, C., Becker, J. & Fiore, J. (1985) Relationships of cognitions associated with coping reactions to depression in spousal caregivers of Alzheimer's disease patients. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 9, 253266.
Cutrona, C. E. (1983) Causal attributions and perinatal depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 92, 161172.
Davies, B. & Challis, D. (1986) Matching Resources to Needs in Community Care: an Evaluated Demonstration of a Long-term Model. Aldershot: Gower.
Eagles, J. M., Beattie, J. A. G., Blackwood, G. W., Restall, D. B. & Ashcroft, G. W. (1987a) The mental health of elderly couples – I: The effects of the cognitively impaired spouse. British Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 299308.
Eagles, J. M., Craig, A., Rawlinson, F., Restall, D. B., Beattie, J. A. G. & Besson, J. A. O. (1987b) The psychological well-being of supporters of the demented elderly. British Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 293298.
Endicott, J., Cohen, J., Nee, J., Fleiss, J. & Sarantakos, S. (1981) Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Archives of General Psychiatry, 38, 98103.
Fatheringham, J., Skelton, M. & Hoddinott, B. (1972) The effects on the families of the presence of a mentally retarded child. Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal, 17, 283289.
Fitting, M., Rabins, P., Lucas, J. M. & Eastham, J. (1986) Caregivers for dementia patients: a comparison of husbands and wives. Gerontologist, 26, 248252.
George, L. K. & Gwyther, L. P. (1986) Caregiver well-being: a multidimensional examination of family caregivers of demented adults. Gerontologist, 26, 253259.
Gilhooly, M. L. M. (1984a) The impact of caregiving on caregivers: factors associated with the psychological well-being of people supporting a dementing relative in the community. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 57, 3544.
Gilhooly, M. L. M. (1984b) The social origins of senile dementia. In Psychological Approaches to the Care of the Elderly (eds Hanley, I. & Hodge, J.). London: Croom Helm.
Gilhooly, M. L. M. (1986) Senile dementia: factors associated with caregiver's preference for institutional care. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 59, 165171.
Gilleard, C. J. (1984) Living with Dementia: Community Care of the Elderly Mentally Infirm. London: Croom Helm.
Gilleard, C. J. (1987) Influence of emotional distress among supporters on the outcome of psychogeriatric day care. British Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 219223.
Gilleard, C. J., Boyd, W. D. & Watt, G. (1982) Problems in caring for the elderly mentally infirm at home. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 1, 151158.
Gilleard, C. J., Belford, H., Gilleard, E., Whittick, J. E. & Gledhill, K. (1984) Emotional distress among the supporters of the elderly mentally infirm. British Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 172177.
Glosser, G. & Wexler, D. (1985) Participants' evaluation of educational/support groups for families of patients with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Gerontologist, 25, 232236.
Goldberg, D. P. (1978) Manual for the General Health Questionnaire. Windsor: NFER–Nelson.
Grad, J. & Sainsbury, P. (1965) An evaluation of the effects of caring for the aged at home. In Psychiatric Disorders in the Aged. WPA symposium. Manchester: Geigy.
Greene, J. G., Smith, R., Gardiner, M. & Timbury, G. C. (1982) Measuring behavioural disturbance of elderly demented patients in the community and its effects on relatives: a factor analytic study. Age and Ageing, 11, 121126.
Greene, J. G., & Timbury, G. C. (1979) A geriatric psychiatry day hospital service: a five year review. Age and Ageing, 8, 4953.
Hammen, C. L. & deMayo, R. (1982) Cognitive correlates of teacher stress and depressive symptoms: implications for attributional models of depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 91, 96101.
Hirschfield, M. J. (1978) Families Living with Senile Brain Disease. Doctor of Nursing Science dissertation, University of California, San Francisco.
Hirschfield, M. J. (1981) Families living and coping with the cognitively impaired. In Recent Advances in Nursing – Vol. 2: Care of the Ageing (ed. Archer Copp, L.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
Horowitz, A. (1985) Sons and daughters as caregivers to older parents: differences in role performance and consequences. The Gerontologist, 25, 612617.
Horowitz, A. & Shindelman, L. W. (1983) Reciprocity and affection: past influences on current caregiving. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 5, 520.
Isaacs, B. (1971) Geriatric patients: do their families care? British Medical Journal, 4, 282285.
Isaacs, B., Livingstone, M. & Neville, Y. (1972) Survival of the Unfittest: a Study of Geriatric Patients in the East End of Glasgow. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Johnson, C. L. (1983) Dyadic family relations and social support. Gerontologist, 23, 377383.
Jones, I. G. & Munbodh, R. (1982) An evaluation of a day hospital for the demented elderly. Health Bulletin (Edinburgh), 40, 1015.
Kahan, J., Kemp, B., Staples, F. R. & Brummel-Smith, K. (1985) Decreasing the burden in families caring for a relative with a dementing illness: a controlled study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Association, 33, 664670.
Kahn, R. L. & Tobin, S. S. (1981) Community treatment for aged persons with altered brain function. In Clinical Aspects of Alzheimer's Disease and Senile Dementia (eds Miller, E. & Cohen, G. D.). New York: Raven Press.
Levin, E., Sinclair, I. & Gorbach, P. (1986) The Supporters of Confused Elderly Persons at Home. London: National Institute of Social Work.
Lewinsohn, P. M., Steinmetz, J. L., Larson, D. W. & Franklin, J. (1981) Depression-related cognitions: antecedents or consequences? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 90, 213219.
MacDonald, A. J. D., Mann, A. H., Jenkins, R., Godlove, C. & Rodwell, G. (1982) An attempt to determine the impact of four types of care upon the elderly. Psychological Medicine, 12, 193200.
Mace, N. L. & Rabins, P. V. (1981) The 36-Hour Day. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Machin, E. (1980) A Survey of the Behaviour of the Elderly and their Supporters at Home. MSc thesis, University of Birmingham.
Morris, L. W. (1986) The Psychological Factors Affecting Emotional Wellbeing of the Spouse Caregivers of Dementia Sufferers. MSc thesis, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Morris, L. W., Morris, R. G. & Britton, P. G. (1988) The relationship between marital intimacy, perceived strain and depression in spouse caregivers of dementia sufferers. British Journal of Medical Psychology (in press).
Newbigging, K. (1981) ‘A Ripe Old Age’: an Investigation of Relatives of Elderly Dependants with Dementia. Inquiry report, British Psychological Society Diploma in Clinical Psychology.
Niederehe, G. & Fruge, E. (1984) Dementia and family dynamics: clinical research issues. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 17, 2156.
Pagel, M. D., Becker, J. & Coppel, D. B. (1985) Loss of control, self-blame and depression: an investigation of spouse caregivers of Alzheimer's disease patients. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94, 169182.
Parkes, C. M. (1972) Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life. London: Tavistock Publications.
Pfeiffer, E. (1979) A short psychiatric evaluation schedule: a new 15-item monotonic scale indicative of functional psychiatric disorder. In Brain Function in Old Age (proceedings of Bayer symposium VII). New York: Springer.
Poulshock, S. W. & Deimling, G. T. (1984) Families caring for elders in residence: issues in the measurement of burden. Journal of Gerontology, 39, 230239.
Powell, L. S. & Courtice, K. (1983) Alzheimer's Disease: a Guide for Families. Don Mills, Ontario: Addison-Wesley.
Rabins, P. V., Mace, H. L. & Lucas, M. J. (1982) The impact of dementia on the family. Journal of the American Medical Association, 248, 333335.
Sainsbury, P. & Grad de Alarcon, J. (1970) The psychiatrist and the geriatric patient: the effects of community care on the family of the geriatric patient. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 4, 2341.
Sanford, J. R. A. (1975) Tolerance of debility in elderly dependants by supporters at home: its significance for hospital practice. British Medical Journal, iii, 471475.
Steuer, J. & Clark, E. (1982) Family support groups within a research project on dementia. Clinical Gerontologist, 1, 8795.
Tarnopolsky, A., Hand, D. J., McLean, E. K., Roberts, N. & Wiggins, R. D. (1979) Validity and uses of a screening questionnaire (GHQ) in the community. British Journal of Psychiatry, 134, 508515.
Tobin, S. & Kulys, R. (1981) The family in the institutionalization of the elderly. Journal of Social Issues, 37, 145157.
Waring, E. M., Tillman, M. P., Frelick, L., Russell, L. & Weisz, G. (1980) Concepts of intimacy in the general population. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 168, 471474.
Wortman, C. B. & Dintzer, L. (1978) Is an attributional analysis of the learned helplessness phenomenon viable? A critique of the Abramson–Seligman–Teasdale reformulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87, 7590.
Zarit, J. M., Gatz, M. & Zarit, S. H. (1981) Family relationships and burden in long-term care. Paper presented at 34th Annual Scientific Meeting of Gerontological Society of America, Toronto, Canada. The Gerontologist, 21, 286.
Zarit, S. H. & Zarit, J. M. (1982) Families under stress: interventions for caregivers of senile dementia patients. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 19, 461471.
Zarit, S. H., Reever, K. E. & Bach-Peterson, J. (1980) Relatives of the impaired elderly: correlates of feeling of burden. Gerontologist, 20, 649655.
Zarit, S. H., Todd, P. A. & Zarit, J. M. (1986) Subjective burden of husbands and wives as caregivers: a longitudinal study. Gerontologist, 26, 260266.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 93 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 429 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 2nd January 2018 - 21st May 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Factors Affecting the Emotional Wellbeing of the Caregivers of Dementia Sufferers

  • Robin G. Morris (a1), Lorna W. Morris (a1) and Peter G. Britton (a1)
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *