Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP


Dementia is characterized by a decrease in cognitive functioning, usually characterized by a progressive decline in brain function over time. As the condition progresses, individuals require more assistance from others in order to maintain their activities of daily, independent living and decision-making among other functions of life. The responsibility of caring for the aging population usually falls on adult children, which can cause stress and tension within the family dynamic. Adult siblings tend to believe that the responsibility of caregiving should be equally split among siblings (Amaro & Miller, 2016); however, it is often the case that one sibling takes on the majority of the caregiving. As the disease progresses, individuals with dementia have a harder time making decisions, requiring their adult children to make decisions for them. Group decision-making can be difficult (Parsons & Cox, 1989), especially when individuals have differing opinions on what the best decision is, which is common in caregiving. The lack of research on the effects of caregiving and decision-making on the sibling relationship provided the rationale for the current study. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceived effects of caregiving for a parent has on the caregiver’s sibling relationships and how decision-making in caregiving affects the sibling relationship. A qualitative research design was utilized to explore if and how caregiving and the decision-making process impact the adult sibling relationship. The participants in this study were adult children who identified themselves as primary caregivers of parents with dementia who each had at least one sibling who lived close enough (within one hour) to be able to assist with providing regular care for a parent.