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Older Adults’ Personality And The Health Of Their Caregivers

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Abstract

The emotional and physical health consequences of caring for a family member are welldocumented. However, although personality has been shown to affect dyadic interactions and been linked with individual outcomes for both CRs and CGs, the influence of care recipient (CR) personality on caregiver (CG) health remains unexplored. This study investigated associations between CRs' five-factor personality traits and CGs' physical and emotional health in 269 dyads of older adults and their informal caregivers who participated in the Medicare Primary and Consumer-Directed Care Demonstration. Analyses also probed differences in the health of adult child versus spousal CGs as well as CGs of CRs with versus without chronic pain. When considering the full CG sample, mixed models controlling for CG personality, strain, sociodemographic characteristics, CR physical impairment and pain found that Agreeableness in CRs was associated with better physical health among CGs. Facet-level analyses showed specific associations between the trust and compliance facets of Agreeableness and CG physical health. Investigation of personality styles revealed that the "easygoing" (N+, A+) and "well-intentioned" (A+, C-) styles predicted better physical health; the "leaders" (E+, A-) style had the opposite effect. No significant associations were found between CR personality and CG mental health. Surprisingly, no differences emerged among the sub-samples: neither CR pain nor CR personality predicted differences in the health of adult child vs. spousal CGs. Results from this study reveal the value of considering CR personality in relation to CG health, regardless of CR pain or CG relationship to the patient. Overall, these findings highlight the importance of assessing dispositional qualities within the context of care provision and informal assistance.

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2013-01-28

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caregivng; personality; physical health; mental health; chronic pain

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Committee Chair

Loeckenhoff, Corinna E

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Pillemer, Karl Andrew
Reid Jr, M Carrington

Degree Discipline

Developmental Psychology

Degree Name

M.A., Developmental Psychology

Degree Level

Master of Arts

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Government Document

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dissertation or thesis

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