Linguistic Markers of Emotion Regulation and Cardiovascular Reactivity Among Older Caregiving Spouses

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Abstract

This study examined linguistic markers of emotion regulation and cardiovascular stress reactivity in spousal caregivers. Fifty-three individuals were audiotaped while they privately disclosed an instance of partner suffering and a typical partner interaction (i.e., a meal together). Systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate (HR) were measured. Linguistic analysis determined emotion and cognitive processing word use. Results revealed that using more positive emotion words was associated with lower HR reactivity in each verbal account. Caregivers who used fewer cognitive processing words (e.g., think, realize, because) overall had the highest HR reactivity to talking about the partner's suffering. These findings have implications for interventions for all caregivers as well as distinguishing more resilient caregivers from those who may be at a higher risk for caregiver burden.

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