Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Peter Lichtenberg


Employment has been consistently identified as a role strain among dementia caregivers. This study sought to examine the patterns and context of employment and work disruption among dementia caregiving daughters and learn the extent to which work disruption influences mental health through hypothesized reductions in financial resources and leisure activities. This study was a cross-sectional design that extracted data of 486 daughter caregivers from a dataset that gathered information from Caucasian, African American, and Latina dementia caregivers at six research sites across the nation.

Results indicated that caregiving daughters who were employed reported the lowest number of depressive symptoms and chronic health conditions. In contrast, the unemployed and homemakers were most vulnerable to mental and physical health problems, despite being virtually the same age, having care recipients with similar levels of ADL impairment, and similar levels of engagement in leisure activities as the employed caregivers. Work disruption was directly related to financial strain, poor physical health, and increased depression. Work disruption had a relatively high base rate: 41% of sample reported that they had reduced or quit working due to caregiving responsibilities.

Path analyses found that work disruption, subsequent financial strain, and reduction in leisure activities explained a small but significant amount of variance in positive affect that was independent of racial identity. However, race had a direct influence on engagement in leisure activities and positive affect, increasing both for minorities, above and beyond work disruption and financial strain

The model accounted for a large portion of the variance in depression; however, the role of financial strain in decreasing leisure activities diminished when physical health was added to the model. Although physical health was not directly related to work disruption, health problems in the caregiver were directly related to leisure and symptoms of depression, indicating that caregiver health problems may prevent participating in pleasant events to a greater degree than financial strain from work disruption. This finding suggests that caregiver physical health problems may be an important factor in whether or not employment is disrupted in the first place.