Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Over 200,000 Americans are diagnosed with young onset dementia (YOD). YOD is the dementia diagnosed prior to the age of 65. Most persons of YOD are cared for by their partners. Caregiving for a partner diagnosed with YOD has unique challenges including multiple losses resulting from the functional, cognitive, and behavioral declines which can be demanding and stressful. These losses experienced by the caregiver of a partner diagnosed with YOD have been termed pre-death grief. Caregivers of partners with YOD often report high levels of burden and stress resulting in depression, anxiety, hopelessness, as well as increase morbidity and mortality. Using the theoretical framework of Resilience Theory, this cross-sectional, correlational study examined the moderating effect of a protective factor of resourcefulness, both personal and social resourcefulness, between the relationship of the risk factor of pre-death grief and perceived stress of 104 YOD caregiving partners using an online survey platform. Results indicated a large positive correlation between pre-death grief and caregiver perceived stress (r = .65; p < .001). Together pre-death grief, personal resourcefulness and social resourcefulness explained 51.5% of the variance in perceived stress. Personal resourcefulness did not moderate the relationship between pre-death grief and perceived stress. Social resourcefulness did positively moderate this relationship between pre-death grief and perceived stress. These finding creates opportunities to better understand the needs using methodological triangulation before appropriate interventions for caregiving partners of YOD can be established.