Study Shows Diversity of Grieving Among Caregivers

A new study by the University of Michigan reveals that racial and ethnic differences play a role in the emotional attitudes of caregivers of Alzheimer's patients. These findings could help improve support services for caregivers.

The study, conducted by James McNally of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, part of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, looked at more than 600 caregivers in three racial and ethnic groups: whites, blacks, and Hispanics. The study found differences in the way these groups accepted death, let go of loved ones, and expressed anger.

According to the study, whites and Hispanics are three to five times more likely as blacks to feel relief when the Alzheimer's sufferer dies. McNally explained that this is consistent with studies that show that blacks have more stressors in their lives than other groups, so they do not get a break after a loved one dies. In addition, the study showed that whites are twice as likely to report emotional acceptance at the death of a loved one as Hispanics and blacks.

The study showed the groups have big differences in feelings of anger toward the deceased. Black caregivers were twice as likely to express anger as Hispanics. Meanwhile, white caregivers were considerably more likely than both Hispanics and blacks to report feelings of anger.

McNally presented the study at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Honolulu. McNally believes these results can help provide support services to caregivers. For example, blacks may need to address the ongoing other stressors in their lives, but Hispanics could need to focus on separation issues with the deceased.

For more information on the study, click here.