As the United States population grows increasingly older, millions of U.S. women find themselves providing care for older parents with Alzheimer?s disease or related dementias (ADRD). Most adult-daughter caregivers (ADCs) are in late mid-life, often transitioning into their own later years while caring for their parents. ADCs, then, are in a life stage where strengthening or maintaining physical health via physical activity is important for their own healthy old age. However, little research focuses on ADCs? physical activity patterns. Having a deeper empirical understanding of the nuances of how ADCs do (or do not) engage in physical activity is vital to support both the immediate and long-term health of the growing number of dementia caregivers. An innovative way to more deeply understand ? and even actively promote ? ADCs? physical activity behavior is to have them identify and work towards a physical activity goal, and to then study the ensuing goal pursuit process. To study goal pursuit processes, researchers are increasingly advocating for the collection and analysis of intensive repeated measures in order to capture how goal pursuit ? and the factors that shape it ? vary within-persons over shorter periods of time, such as on a day-to-day basis. Daily microlongitudinal designs have been used by researchers studying caregivers? psychological well-being, but such designs have yet to extend to physical activity. Via a 30-day daily microlongitudinal design, the proposed ACHIEVE (Assessing Caregiver Health-goals In Everyday Contexts) Study aims to utilize intensive repeated measurements to explore how ADCs pursue their own personally-selected physical activity health goals on a daily basis. The ACHIEVE Study will employ a ?30 participants for 30 days? design (Kreft, 1996), where 30 ADCs of parents with ADRD will select their own physical activity goal on which they will work for the following 30 days. Then, each day for 30 days, they will report ? via a brief online survey ? how much progress they made towards their goal that day, along with two constructs we hypothesize to impact caregiver physical activity on a daily basis: (1) care burden and (2) caregivers? perceptions of their own aging process. In addition to strengthening the empirical knowledge on caregivers? daily health behavior, findings from the study have the potential to inform more person-centered approaches to caregiver health interventions. Results will also lay the groundwork for future intensive repeated measurement research focused on ADRD caregiver physical activity goal pursuit specifically, or even physical health more broadly.

Public Health Relevance

The 17.7 million people in the United States who are currently providing unpaid care to an older adult family member are at risk for negative health outcomes, impacting the health of both the current and future older adult population. By collecting and analyzing data on family caregivers? physical activity on a daily basis, this research will offer new insights into the nuances of family caregivers? health behavior. In addition to contributing to the empirical literature on family caregivers? health, results can inform more person-centered caregiver health interventions in order to strengthen the overall well-being of a vulnerable population projected to grow significantly as the population ages.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Dissertation Award (R36)
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Neuroscience of Aging Review Committee (NIA)
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Gerald, Melissa S
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Oregon State University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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