Theoretical perspectives concerning positive aspects of caring for elderly persons with dementia: stress/adaptation and existentialism

Gerontologist. 1997 Apr;37(2):250-6. doi: 10.1093/geront/37.2.250.


Research concerning caregivers of persons with dementia has predominantly been guided by a stress/adaptation paradigm. This paradigm, however, does not fully address the issue of how caregivers manage to do so well under difficult circumstances. Existentialism offers an alternate theoretical view for exploring this issue. This article compares and contrasts these two paradigms-their key elements, strengths, and limitations, and areas of convergence and divergence. It identifies implications for future theory development, research, and clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Existentialism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology*