Substantial Changes in Mastery Perceptions of Dementia Caregivers With the Placement of a Care Recipient

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The current study examined how a key component of caregiving stress processes, global mastery perceptions, changes with placing the care recipient in a nursing home or institution. We also explored the role of primary stressors in accounting for mastery changes with placement and whether characteristics of the caregiver and care recipient moderate reactions to placement.


We applied multiphase growth curve models to prospective longitudinal data from 271 caregivers in the Caregiver Stress and Coping Study who experienced placement of their care recipient.


Using a time-to/from-placement metric, we found that caregivers typically experienced declines in mastery preceding placement, followed by a significant increase within 1 year after placement and further increases thereafter. Corresponding changes in primary stressors (role overload) mediated the placement-related increase in mastery. Caregivers who reported more depressive symptoms and activities of daily living/instrumental activities of daily living dependencies of the care recipient were more likely to experience larger placement-related increases in mastery perceptions.


Our findings suggest that placement alters psychological resources of caregivers and this effect is driven by corresponding changes in primary stressors. Findings also underscore the importance of examining change processes across salient life events and transitions.

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