-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Caring for a loved one who is
ill is always stressful, but older people caring for a spouse who
has dementia may face an increased risk for cognitive problem or
dementia themselves, researchers report.
The new study, published in the May issue of the
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, warns that caregivers need support to maintain their own mental health and ability to care for their loved ones.
Researchers reviewed studies examining the cognitive health of
older adults caring for a family member (primarily a spouse) with
dementia. The review revealed that spouses who are caregivers may
have a higher risk of cognitive impairment or dementia than spouses
who are not caregivers.
"Persons who are caring for a spouse with dementia may themselves be at risk for cognitive problems which, in turn, will not only negatively influence their quality of life, but may reduce their ability to provide the necessary care for their spouse," study author Peter Vitaliano, University of Washington School of Medicine, said in a journal news release. "Spouse caregivers are extremely important because most care-recipients prefer to be cared for in their homes, and, by remaining in their homes, health-care costs are reduced greatly."
The study attributed the caregivers' cognitive decline to a
number of possible contributing factors, including:
The researchers concluded that strategies are needed to help
ease psychological distress and promote healthy behaviors among
caregivers, such as eating right and exercising.
The AARP has a resource center offering
tips and advice for caregivers.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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