Caregivers experience a heavy burden when they are giving unpaid care to family members. “It is well established that providing informal care for a family member poses risks for the caregiver. Compared with non-caregivers, caregivers face greater physical illnesses, stress, and mental health problems,” said Jennifer Q. Morse of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Relationship attributes have been related to greater caregiver depression, burden, and providing problematic care.” Attachment Theory explains that in order for an adult caregiver to provide good care, they must have a good model of self and others. “The model of self describes whether people view themselves as worthy of care; model of others describes whether others can be trusted to provide care,” said Morse. When an individual has a negative model of self, they may provide poor care and be less responsive to the patient’s needs. When they have a negative model of others, they may provide less overall care and less relevant care.
In an attempt to determine if the model of self and others influenced the type of care given by adult caregivers, Morse and her team reviewed data from 430 caregivers who were part of the Family Relationships in Late Life (FRILL 2) Project, a study designed to examine the effects and relationships of family caregivers. Based on interviews that were conducted on the participants, the team evaluated the depressive symptoms of the caregivers with relation to the attachment models. They found that when a caregiver had a positive model of self they experienced less depression and were more attentive and respectful to their patient. Additionally, they realized that viewing others in a positive light also minimized depressive symptoms, but did not affect quality of care. The team discovered that younger, female caregivers were at higher risk of depression and administering poor care. They said, “These results partially concur with reports identifying female caregivers as endorsing more burden and depression.”
Morse, J. Q., Shaffer, D. R., Williamson, G. M., Dooley, W. K., & Schulz, R. (2011, May 23). Models of Self and Others and Their Relation to Positive and Negative Caregiving Responses. Psychology and Aging. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0023960
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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