Date of Award:

8-2019

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

JoAnn T. Tschanz

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Gail B. Rattinger

Third Advisor:

M. Scott DeBerard

Abstract

This project used data from the Dementia Progression Study, a longitudinal, population-based study based out of Cache County, Utah. Statistical models were used to examine the association between caregiver factors, the care environment, and cognitive outcomes in persons with dementia. Mediational analyses were also used to examine if the care environment, inferred for nutritional status, engagement in physical and cognitively stimulating activities, mediated the relationship between the closeness/caregiver coping strategies and cognition in persons with dementia. Results showed that closer caregiver-care recipient relationships were associated with better nutritional status and more engagement in number of cognitively stimulating activities as well as better cognitive scores (category verbal fluency, short-term auditory memory, auditory working memory, and immediate verbal memory). Coping strategies were not significantly associated with aspects of the care environment but Blames Self coping strategy was associated with better performance on a measure of verbal fluency, whereas Blames Others coping was associated with worse performance in confrontation naming. The care environment was not a mediator between caregiver factors and cognition, though if allowing for a broader criterion of statistical significance (.10), nutritional status mediated the relationship between closeness and the neuropsychological outcome, semantic fluency. The results of this project identify targets of intervention (caregiver-care recipient closeness and caregiver coping strategies) that may positively impact persons with dementia in possibly improving care-recipient outcomes.

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Included in

Psychology Commons

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