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Cognitive functioning among cognitively intact dementia caregivers compared to matched self-selected and population controls

O'Sullivan, Michael, Brennan, Sabina, Lawlor, Brian A., Hannigan, Caoimhe, Robertson, Ian H. and Pertl, Maria M. (2018) Cognitive functioning among cognitively intact dementia caregivers compared to matched self-selected and population controls. Aging & Mental Health. ISSN 1364-6915

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Abstract

Purpose of the study: Caregiving for a person with dementia is frequently used to model the impact of chronic stress on health, including cognitive functioning. However, the prevalence of typically healthier, self-selecting non-caregiving control groups could contribute to a picture of poorer caregiver performance and overstate the negative effects of stress. We investigated differences in cognitive performance between dementia caregivers and two groups of non-caregivers recruited using different sampling methods.

Design and methods: We compared cognitive function and psychological wellbeing among 252 spousal dementia caregivers with demographically matched non-caregiving control groups drawn from (1) a population study and (2) a self-selecting sample. Comparable cognitive measures included immediate and delayed recall, processing speed reaction time and verbal fluency.

Results: Caregiver and non-caregiver performance was comparable on most cognitive domains. However, caregivers outperformed both control groups on processing speed (p ≤ .05) and reaction time (p ≤ .05), despite having higher levels of stress and depression (ps < .001). Furthermore, caregivers had significantly better free recall than self-selecting controls (p < .001).

Implications: Our results, overall, do not support the idea that caregiving is associated with stress-induced cognitive deficits. Rather, the trend toward better caregiver performance is consistent with the healthy caregiver hypothesis.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > Psychology > Cognition
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Related URLs:
Depositing User: CAOIMHE NI MHAICIN
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2018 09:53
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2018 09:53
URI: http://trap.ncirl.ie/id/eprint/3182

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