Does Vigilance in Decision-making Matter for Dementia Family Caregivers?

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Aging & Mental Health




Objectives: Family responsibilities and social expectations often prompt conflict in caregivers’ decision-making processes. Janis and Mann's (1977) conflict model describes vigilance as high-quality decision-making resulting in optimal outcomes. The purpose of our research was threefold: (1) to describe decision styles in a population of family caregivers of persons with dementia; (2) to examine the socio-economic characteristics associated with caregivers who are more likely to be vigilant decision-makers; and (3) to assess differences in caregiving experiences between vigilant and non-vigilant caregivers.

Method: Our analysis was based on 639 survey respondents recruited from a university-affiliated memory disorders clinic.

Results: Our typical caregiver was Caucasian non-Hispanic, was currently married, and had two children. Approximately half of our sample used a ‘pure vigilant’ decision style. Vigilance was associated with more positive and fewer negative caregiving outcomes.

Conclusion: Supporting caregivers to become vigilant decision-makers is a functionally viable intervention that could significantly improve the caregiving experience.