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Health Services Research & Development

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Polenick CA, Stanz SD, Leggett AN, Maust DT, Hodgson NA, Kales HC. Stressors and Resources Related to Medication Management: Associations With Spousal Caregivers' Role Overload. The Gerontologist. 2020 Jan 24; 60(1):165-173.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Managing medications can be stressful for spousal caregivers, but little is known about particular aspects of medication management that are most consequential for caregiving outcomes. We examined care stressors and resources related to medication management, their associations with role overload among spousal caregivers, and whether these links vary by care recipients' number of chronic health conditions and dementia status. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: This cross-sectional study included 377 spousal caregivers of adults aged 65 and older from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study and National Study of Caregiving. Linear regressions were estimated to evaluate how medication-related stressors (ordering medication, keeping track of medications, giving injections) and resources (medication reminder systems, shared medication management within the spousal dyad) are associated with caregivers' role overload. Care recipients' number of chronic health conditions and dementia status were considered as moderators. Models controlled for caregivers' sociodemographic characteristics, chronic health conditions, and other care tasks. RESULTS: Caregivers who administered injections reported more role overload, whereas those who worked with care recipients to jointly manage medications reported less role overload. Keeping track of medications was linked to caregivers' greater role overload when care recipients had 5 or more chronic health conditions. Finally, care recipients' use of medication reminder systems was linked to less role overload for caregivers of a partner with dementia. DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Devising strategies to assist spousal caregivers in the more onerous components of medication management and promote resources that mitigate medication-related stress may improve caregiver well-being.

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