Although caregiving has been studied extensively, most studies have focused on the activities performed by caregivers, problems encountered and caregivers' reactions. Less attention has been paid to measuring historical and interpersonal factors that may shape the situation and affect outcomes, but are not necessarily embedded in the role itself. The objective of this article is to report on the development and testing of the Elder Image Scale (EIS) which indexes the personal identity of the elder, the mental image the caregiver has of the elder derived from past associations, present observations, and the reconciliation of the past with present impressions. This scale was based on the Family Caregiving Dynamics Model and the personal image of the elder is predicted to be shaped by certain structural factors and to impact both the perceptions of caregivers and the outcomes of caregiving. This article reports on four separate investigations; six-hundred-and-fifty-six caregivers participated. The EIS is in the semantic differential format. Internal consistency ranged from .92 to .98 over four studies. Stability after two weeks was .93 for both subscales. All correlations with criteria were in the direction predicted and most were significant. Known group comparisons showed all group differences were statistically significant as predicted. The EIS is internally consistent, stable and evidences construct validity. In addition, measuring this concept appears to have great relevance for explaining both perceptions of caregivers and outcomes of caregiving.
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