Perceived stress among Alzheimer support group members : a broader perspective
Kuluski, Kerry Helen
Master of Social Work
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This study examines the experience of Alzheimer caregiver support group members in relation to their perceived levels of stress. Thirty-three participants from the six Alzheimer Society sites in the jurisdiction of Northern Ontario participate in the study. The research tool consists of a 26- item self designed survey assessing characteristics of the support group, the caregiver, the care receiver, and outside assistance. These independent variables are examined to outline their probable influence on a caregiver’s perceived stress. The survey incorporates Cohen’s 4-item Perceived Stress Scale along with a question measuring self-identified caregiver stress which collectively created the dependent variable perceived stress. Additionally, these caregivers are given the opportunity to express through open-ended survey questions how they view their role as a caregiver, what contributes to their stress and service ideas that they have for the future. Significant relationships are found between the independent variables of self-care, gender, marital status, and difficulty asking for help with the dependent variable perceived stress. No significant relationships are found between perceived stress and the independent variables, length of support group attendance, employment status, living arrangements, stage of disease, use of respite, barriers to respite, and regular help from family and friends. This may be a result of the sample size of this study. Through a Structural Functional, Feminist, and Contextual Fluidity framework, caregiving is discussed in relation to the influence of political and sociological forces.