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Self v. Proxy Appraisals: Do Caregivers Truly Know their Care Recipient's Well-Being?

Self v. Proxy Appraisals: Do Caregivers Truly Know their Care Recipient's Well-Being?

Kristopher Struckmeyer

Human Development and Family Science

Health ratings directly impact the care that individuals receive. Self-appraisals are considered the gold standard when assessing health factors. However, representatives (i.e., proxies) are identified to provide assessments for individuals with cognitive impairment. Research (Trigg, Watts, Jones, & Tod, 2011) has questioned the reliability of proxy appraisals due to proxies under or overrating an individual’s health. The purpose of this study was to determine the influences of self and proxy appraisals of health factors in non-cognitively impaired older adults. Sample participants included 44 paired caregiver-care recipient dyads residing in Oklahoma. Informal caregivers were asked to rate their respective care recipient on physical and mental health, and subjective well-being variables. Research suggests that proxies tend to overrate the extent to which older care recipients experience psychosomatic symptoms, fatigue, stress, and loneliness. Proxies seemed to underrate care recipients' ability to perform activities of daily living, maintain nutritional health, feel satisfied and happy in life, achieve a positive quality-of-life, and demonstrate mastery over the living environment. These findings indicate that discrepancies between caregiver-care recipient ratings of health factors exist regardless of cognitive impairment. Results highlight the importance of evaluating caregiver-care recipient dyads to enhance the psychosocial well-being of care recipients.