Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Ann M. Mayo, DNSc, RN, FAAN Chairperson; Cynthia D. Connelly, PhD, RN, FAAN Member; Caroline Etland, PhD, RN, Member


caregiver, dementia, flourishing, life satisfaction, positive/negative experience



The purpose of this study was to describe the relationship between aging female informal caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD) and care recipients’ PWD demographic factors, aging female informal caregivers of PWD social support factors, positive and negative feelings, a sense of flourishing, stress, and life satisfaction.


Older adults with dementia are living longer and the majority are receiving care by aging female informal caregivers. Dementia incrementally worsens over time impacting informal caregiver life satisfaction. Most studies have focused on negative aspects of informal caregiving. Therefore, this study investigated both positive and negative aspects of caregiving.

Conceptual Basis

The stress theory of Lazarus and Folkman (1984) delineates how people respond with attitude and behavior to situations that are stressful and Bandura (1977) emphasizes understanding the stress response and reaction to it can help a person realize and adapt to stress.


The study purpose was achieved through a cross-sectional descriptive design. A convenience sample of aging female informal caregivers of PWD over age 56 (N = 35) were enrolled in the study. Six quantitative instruments were utilized: Scale of Positive and Negative Experience, Flourishing Scale, Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire, and Satisfaction with Life Scale. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the data.


In aging female informal caregivers of PWD, over half of the participants scored satisfied or higher in life satisfaction. Due to the study’s small sample size, four models were tested using only two independent variables at a time to determine the variance in the dependent variable life satisfaction for each model. The independent variables accounting for the variance in life satisfaction within each of the four models were affect balance (62%), positive feelings (49%), sense of flourishing (47%), and negative feelings (62%); (p < 0.001).

Implications for Research

Future research is recommended. First, replicating this study in aging male informal caregivers of PWD would address a substantial gap in knowledge. Next, interventions aimed at increasing life satisfaction for aging informal caregivers of PWD would be crucial for those who are at-risk of diminished life satisfaction.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access