Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Second Advisor

Dr. Lonnie Duncan

Third Advisor

Dr. Maureen Mickus


Care recipients, caregiving, well-being, reciprocity, dignity, burden


The majority of care to persons 65 and older in the United States is provided by family members. Previous research among older adults who receive assistance with their care from family or friends, while sparse, has identified variables that appear to impact the well-being of such persons. These variables include reciprocity, dignity, self-perceived burden, mental health status, and physical health or disability status. However, these variables have not been studied together. The purpose of this dissertation research was to examine these variables individually and collectively as they relate to well-being.

A sample of 71 adults, ages 68 to 97, who receive help or assistance from at least one family member participated in the study. Participants were recruited from senior living communities in Northern Indiana and Southwestern Michigan. Hierarchical regression analyses were utilized to examine the effects of reciprocity, dignity, self-perceived burden, anxiety, depression, and functional impairment on psychological well-being, and on social well-being. The results indicated: 1) Functional impairment, anxiety, depression, reciprocity, dignity, and self-perceived burden collectively impact both psychological and social well-being; 2) Dignity, reciprocity, and self-perceived burden collectively impact social well-being after controlling for depression, anxiety, and functional impairment; and 3) Reciprocity contributed unique effects to the variance on social well-being. Findings and implications are discussed, and recommendations for future research are provided.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access