Explaining the subjective well-being of informal caregivers after care recipient death
Shovali, Tamar Ester
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The present study examined the role of activity restriction on caregiver well-being in the wake of care recipient death. Objectives were to determine whether and how caregivers’ perceptions of activity restriction change from the pre- to post-transition period and the impact of that change on post-transition caregiver subjective well-being. This research also examined whether restrictions in different kinds of activities predict post-transition caregiver well-being differently. Analyses were based on data from 72 caregivers in the second Family Relationships in Late Life (FRILL2) project who relinquished their roles due to care recipient death. Cross-sectional bivariate analyses showed that caregivers who perceived that they were restricted in their routine activities and were more likely to report more depressive symptoms. Extending previous research, greater activity restriction following was related to more depression after care recipient death. Results from t-tests showed that, at the aggregate level, caregivers perceived less activity restriction after care recipient death than during caregiving, with greater decreases found in expressive activity restriction than instrumental activity restriction through the transition. In multivariate analyses using longitudinal data, decreases in activity restriction from the pre-transition to post-transition period predicted less depression and grief and more relief after care recipient death. Support was found for the differing impact of expressive and instrumental activity restriction on caregiver well-being following care recipient death. Specifically, decreases in expressive activity restriction predicted less depressive symptomology and grief to a slightly greater extent than did decreases in instrumental activity restriction, whereas decreases in instrumental activity restriction predicted greater relief than did decreases in expressive activity restriction. Results provide support for the assumptions of the activity restriction model of depressed affect and the stress-relief hypothesis of bereavement. This study provides information about the processes behind caregiver transitions due to care recipient death and adds to our understanding of the conditions in which caregivers adapt to bereavement after a major life role ends. Study limitations, future directions, and opportunities for intervention are discussed.