Dementia Caregiving Outcomes: The Impact of Caregiving Onset, Cognitive Impairment and Behavioral Problems

Katherina Nikzad-Terhune, Joseph E. Gaugler, Joy Jacobs-Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


With a projected increase in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias, family caregiving is steadily increasing. Caring for an individual with AD is characterized as a “career,” and within this career are a number of key transitions, including the onset of caregiving. Research reveals a number of negative emotional health outcomes for AD caregivers, including depression and role overload, but less research has examined the influence of key transitions on the emotional adaptation of caregivers. The purpose of this study is to examine how different patterns of caregiving onset (gradual and abrupt) impact emotional health outcomes for AD caregivers. This study also explores how care-recipient cognitive impairment and behavioral problems moderate these relationships. Cross-sectional, quantitative data from 100 caregivers completing self-administered surveys were used. A series of one-way ANOVAs and multiple regression analyses were conducted to address study aims. Results indicate that care-recipient cognition and behavioral problems moderated the relationship between caregiving onset and emotional health outcomes for caregivers who experienced a more abrupt entry into the caregiving role. Results suggest the importance of considering different onset transitions and moderating factors within the caregiving career to target clinical interventions. Implications for social work practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-563
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Gerontological Social Work
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 4 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • caregiving
  • dementia
  • onset
  • outcomes


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