Friday, April 20, 2018

Caregiving Good

This week I am sharing the results of a survey that is the first one I’ve seen that contradicts previous survey results about the detrimental side of caregiving, for some people. Previously, several reports have stated that the stress of caring for a loved one can be bad for your health, if you are a caregiver. The latest findings indicate that caregivers may actually benefit from providing care under some circumstances. This latest report from the University of Michigan shows a positive outcome of helping someone you love – and I’m glad to share it with you. According to the study from the University of Michigan, older adults who care for an ill spouse for at least 14 hours each week have a longer lifespan. Researchers used data from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement study. They analyzed seven years worth of information on 1,688 Americans over the age of 70, who live independently. "Previous studies have documented negative effects of caregiving," said an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and faculty associate at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. "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," she said. In the study, which began in 1993, the participants were asked how much help they were given by their spouses in activities of daily living. Eighty-one percent of the participants reported that they did not receive any help from their spouse, 9 percent received less than 14 hours of care, and 10 percent received more than that, according to the study. By the end of the study, 27 percent of the population had died and the researchers found that the spouses who provided at least 14 hours of care were less likely to have died during the study than those who did not spend time caring for their spouses. It is believed that the findings correspond with the theory that evolutionary forces guide humans to altruism in these cases. "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," according the researchers. Research continues on this subject. I hope you find joy in helping somebody you love and beat the (previous) statistics. If you are a caregiver, be sure to attend an upcoming Caregiver Resource Fair on May 22nd at The Dale Association from 12:30 – 3:30 pm, 33 Ontario St., Lockport, NY 14094

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