Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Cay Anderson-Hanley




caregivers, positive, writing, coping


The challenges caregivers face are often overwhelmingly mentally and physically stressful, and layered in is the grief that comes with watching a loved one slip away (Ornstein, Gaugler, Devanand, Scarmeas, Zhu, & Stern, 2013). The purpose of my study will be to examine if utilizing expressive writing (EW) can benefit caregivers of older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), before a patient might progress to dementia. I hypothesize that EW during early stage decline will be more beneficial than later since it is may be an easier time to use this skill, before caregivers are in the most demanding phases of providing care for their loved one. In this study the caregivers’ stress and coping skill were assessed before and after the EW intervention. Caregivers were provided with journals (either online or paper) in which they were instructed to write for twenty minutes a day for three consecutive days. They were given instructions according to current EW strategies for writing about their feelings and experiences related to their caregiving role. Participants are randomly assigned to one of two conditions: 1) writing about the negative and positive emotions felt as a caregiver or 2) writing only about the positive emotions experienced. After the end of their intervention participants' journal entries were analyzed using a linguistic word count program (LIWC) to test hypotheses regarding benefits of varied EW strategies and stage of cognitive decline. Those following the positive emotion focus showed a trend in the alleviation of dysfunctional coping mechanism. This finding suggests that future research should focus on the impact of positive emotion focus and healthier coping styles.