First Advisor

Wright, Stephen L.

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With the population of individuals with dementia growing every year, spouses are frequently finding themselves in caregiving roles. The progressive nature of dementia often leads to grief over actual and expected declines in the physical and psychological functioning of those with the disease. Spouses may grieve over losses that have not yet occurred. This anticipatory grief may affect how spousal caregivers perceive their relationship. This may further affect the spouses’ satisfaction with life and marriage and impact the quality of care they provide to their loved one with dementia. Using electronic data collection through three national organizations that support caregivers, this study explored two areas of spousal caregivers’ functioning. First, how attachment style and perceived closeness affect the life and marital satisfaction of spousal caregivers. Second, whether anticipatory grief moderates the effects of relationship quality on satisfaction with life and marriage. Attachment and perceived closeness accounted for statistically significant variance of both life satisfaction and marital satisfaction. Anticipatory grief was not found to moderate either of these outcomes. While addressing grief may still be an area of focus for those providing support to caregivers, results from this study suggest that helping caregivers’ to improve their relationship quality and life satisfaction may be the most important target of intervention


Attachment, Caregivers, Dementia, Grief, Moderation


245 pages

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