Daily Influences on Everyday Memory, Well-Being, and Affect Among Dyadic Caregivers and Care Recipients With Mild Cognitive Impairment

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Giannotto, Emily L.
Hertzog, Christopher
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Multifaceted approaches to understanding daily fluctuations that affect memory and well-being among spousal dyads, where one member has diagnosed mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and the other serves as a care partner, is a relatively unexplored area of research. This study took a novel and exploratory approach to understanding the interconnectedness of different influences on spousal dyads’ daily fluctuations in memory, caregiver burden, stress, sleep, affect, relationship mutuality, and collaborative cognition from the perspective of the care partner and the care recipient. Using a nightly diary, 27 dyads (participants with MCI and their spousal care partners) filled out an online form for 14 consecutive nights. The diary forms included self-report and informant reports about daily stress, sleep quality, caregiver burden, depressive affect, memory, dyadic interactions, and collaboration. Using multilevel modeling, I investigated how daily fluctuations in these variables among both members of the dyad were associated with memory failures, depressive affect, and caregiver burden outcomes within days and from one day to the next. I anticipated higher reported daily stress, lower quality sleep, higher depressive affect, collaborative cognition, negative dyadic interactions, poorer sleep quality and lower daily memory ratings to negatively influence care partners’ daily caregiver burden, depressive affect, and reported memory failures within days and from one day to the next. Results were promising with respect to protective effects of mutuality and collaborative cognition whereas poorer-than-average sleep quality showed significant lagged sleep debt effects on aspects of daily cognition and depressive affect. Problematic behaviors related to cognitive impairment in the care recipients was also associated with poorer memory outcomes for caregivers. The present study was successful in implementing a novel study design and demonstrated the value of multidimensional investigations using repeated measures with both members of caring dyads dealing with MCI.
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