Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Fredda Blanchard-Fields


In this research the relationship between coping, controllability, developmental level, and subjective well-being was examined within the context of caring for an impaired spouse. Seventy-seven older persons in three different categories participated in the study: (a) individuals who cared for a mentally impaired spouse, (b) individuals who cared for a physically impaired spouse, and (c) individuals who lived with a non-impaired spouse. Results indicated that the the non-caregivers had a higher level of well-being than caregivers of the physically impaired and caregivers of the mentally impaired. Caregivers of the mentally impaired individuals sought more social support and engaged in more wishful thinking than did the other two groups, but these coping strategies did not significantly affect their well-being. Wishful thinking was influenced by age: the older the person, the less use of wishful thinking. For the non-caregivers, controllability was inversely related to subjective well-being. When the groups were examined together, subjective well-being was predicted by the context of caregiving, but was not predicted by coping, controllability, and developmental level.