Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Janet Reid-Hector


As older couples age, often one partner becomes more competent and able to care for the other, in which case they are able to remain in their homes. In one township in the northeastern United States, the caregiving role had a significant effect on the lives of elderly men who care for their wives. The purpose of this quantitative project study was to determine the relationship between perceived stress burden and perceived level of social support services and between perceived stress burden and use of support services by elderly male spousal caregivers residing in active adult communities. Watson's theory of caring provided the theoretical foundation for this study. A correlational design was used and data were collected from 82 elderly male spousal caregivers with (a) the Zarit Burden Interview; (b) the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support; and (c) a checklist, Support Services in Your Area. Descriptive analysis indicated that participants carry a large stress burden, particularly emotional stress (Zarit Burden score of 36.58/65), enjoy strong social support (Multidimensional Scale score of 45.47/75), and use few community services. Pearson's product-moment correlation revealed no significant relationship between perceived stress burden and perceived social support or between perceived stress burden and use of community services, indicating that men feel emotional stress but the feelings are not related to their use of community services. As community services were not used by elderly male caregiver spouses, a workshop for professionals was developed to help the professionals expand programs and services that may have value for these men in their caregiver role. This study has social significance because satisfaction with the caregiver role has consequences for the health and financial well-being of the elderly and for U.S. society.