Navigation Links
In sickness and health: Caring for ailing spouse may prolong your life
Date:11/25/2008

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Older people who spent at least 14 hours a week taking care of a disabled spouse lived longer than others. That is the unexpected finding of a University of Michigan study forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The study supports earlier research showing that in terms of health and longevity, it really is better to give than to receive.

"These findings suggest that caregivers may actually benefit from providing care under some circumstances," said U-M researcher Stephanie Brown, lead author of the study report. "Previous studies have documented negative health effects of caregiving. But the current results show that it is time to disentangle the presumed stress of providing help from the stress of witnessing a loved one suffer."

Brown is an assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and a faculty associate at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). She is also affiliated with the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Hospital.

For the study, Brown and colleagues reviewed seven years of data from the U-M Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative sample of Americans age 70 and older. The analysis focused on 1,688 couples, all of whom lived on their own.

At the start of the study in 1993, both members of each couple reported how much help they received from their spouse with a long list of everyday activities. These included eating, dressing and bathing, preparing meals, managing money and taking medications.

The vast majority---approximately 81 percent---said they received no help at all from their spouse. Another nine percent reported getting less than 14 hours of help a week, and the remaining ten percent reported getting 14 hours of help or more each week.

Over the course of the study, 909 people died---about 27 percent of the study population. After controlling for health, age, race, gender, education, employment status and net worth, Brown and colleagues found that the individuals who provided at least 14 hours of care a week to their spouses were significantly less likely to have died during the study period than those who provided no spousal care.

The results of this study add to a growing literature on the positive, beneficial health effects of caregiving, helping and altruism, according to Brown. Her own earlier work has shown that providing social support to friends, relatives and neighbors has a beneficial impact on mortality and on coping with spousal loss.

Brown has a theory about why this is the case. Rather than assuming that humans are selfish and necessarily act only on the basis of rational self-interest, she believes that strong evolutionary forces favor altruistic motivation when individuals are interdependent.

"There is growing recognition that economic decisions may be influenced by complex motivations, not limited to self-interest," she said. "We don't know yet exactly how caregiving motivation and behavior might influence health, but it could be that helping another person---especially someone you love---relieves some of the harmful stress effects of seeing that person suffer."

With support from the National Science Foundation, Brown will examine how altruistic, helpful behavior, including caregiving, enhances well-being. Starting in 2009, this research will focus on the neuro-affective mechanisms of helping behavior.


'/>"/>

Contact: Diane Swanbrow
swanbrow@umich.edu
734-647-9069
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. The "DNDi Project of the Year": The Development of Fexinidazole to Treat "Sleeping Sickness"
2. Retaining Employees Capacity For Work Following Sickness
3. Why do astronauts suffer from space sickness?
4. Morning Sickness Magic(TM) - An Effective Natural Approach to Morning Sickness
5. Spouses Sickness Bodes Ill for Partners Health
6. How shyness and other normal human traits became sickness
7. International Database Seeks to Boost Treatment of Altitude Sickness
8. Highlights from the December 2008 Issue of Mens Health: On Newsstands November 18th, 2008
9. Andrew Weils Integrative Medicine Program Bestows Honors on Chopra Centers Director of Womens Health: Valencia Porter, M.D. receives Integrative Medicine Fellowship
10. Philips Norelco Encourages Americans to Change the Face of Mens Health: Grow a Moustache This November and Raise Awareness for Prostate Cancer Research
11. Trust for Americas Health: New E. Coli Outbreak, Confusion Around Salmonella Show Food Safety System Remains Broken
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... ... PawPaws brand pet supplements owned by Whole Health Supply is ... of felines. The formula is all-natural and is made from Chinese herbs that have ... Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are Astragalus Root Extract and Rehmannia Root Extract ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can now turn to Dr. Jessica ... Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey brings specialization to include Mohs ... Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under the direction of Glenn Goldstein, ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. Omkar Marathe earned his Bachelors in ... School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in Internal Medicine at Scripps Green Hospital ... at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he had the opportunity to train in ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... plastic surgery procedures that most people are unfamiliar with. The article goes on to ... known procedures, but also many of these less common operations such as calf and ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The ... in Dallas that it will receive two significant new grants to support its ... PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and scientists for ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... CAPR ), a biotechnology company focused on ... today announced that patient enrollment in its ongoing ... Duchenne) has exceeded 50% of its 24-patient target. ... in the third quarter of 2016, and to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 , , ... July 7, 2016 , , , , LOCATION: , , ... , , , EXPERT PANELISTS:  , , , Frost & ... Analyst, Christi Bird; Senior Industry Analyst, Divyaa Ravishankar and Unmesh Lal, ... The global pharmaceutical industry is witnessing an exceptional era. Several new ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Revolutionary technology ... Oticon , industry leaders in advanced audiology and ... Oticon Opn ™, the world,s first internet connected ... for IoT devices.      (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382240 ... a number of ,world firsts,: , TwinLink™ ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: