Document Type


Publication Date

December 2004


This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author's final version prior to publication in Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders 18(4):247-55, Oct.-Dec. 2004. The published version is available from the publisher's website. Copyright © 2004 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.


Black caregivers of persons with Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRD) have demonstrated significantly lower levels of stress and burden than white caregivers, as measured by instruments that assess caregiving burden and stressfulness of specific problem behaviors. However, the reasons for reported differences are unclear and cannot be attributed solely to race. This descriptive study used content analysis to compare black caregivers’ descriptions and interpretations of responses to memory and behavioral issues of relatives with ADRD to 11 explanations for lower levels of upset proposed in the caregiving literature. Findings confirmed only two explanations from the literature, social support and religious orientation, as factors that influenced appraisal of upset. Two new themes emerged, categorized as Making Sense and Using Strategies, as explanatory frameworks. Findings extend current knowledge of black caregivers’ emotional responses to caregiving and support the need for future study of the ways in which particular ethnic and racial groups experience caregiving. Understanding the meaning of appraisals may enable service providers and program developers to tailor services and interventions to support the efforts of black and other minority caregivers.