The relation between Alzheimer's disease caregiving status, health-related possible selves, and health behaviors

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University of Alabama Libraries

Possible selves are personalized representations of the self in the future that may motivate individuals to strive toward desired states and avoid feared outcomes. Possible selves have been explored among many populations but have not been investigated among Alzheimer's disease caregivers. In this study, the health-related possible selves of two groups were compared: individuals caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease, and individuals who are not caring for anyone with Alzheimer's disease. It was hypothesized that an individual's status as an Alzheimer's caregiver would increase the likelihood of having possible selves related to the development of Alzheimer's disease. It was also hypothesized that caregivers would engage in health behaviors at a lower rate than non-caregivers. Thirty-one non-caregivers and 18 Alzheimer's disease caregivers participated in this study. Caregivers were significantly younger and tended to be White, while non-caregivers were significantly older and tended to be African American. After controlling for age and race, results did not support the hypotheses regarding group differences. However, White participants were more likely to report possible selves related to Alzheimer's disease than were African American participants. Limitations of the current study, as well as implications for future studies, are discussed.

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Clinical psychology