Caregiving’s Hidden Benefits




Could there be measurable benefits to your health, and to your brain in particular, from being a caregiver?

It’s practically become an article of faith that the reverse is true, that caring for an elderly relative is so stressful, relentless and draining that it takes a toll on your well-being. Some studies have shown that it can increase your risk of depression and heart disease, impair your immune system, even contribute to death.

That caregiving could actually provide some health advantage is so counterintuitive that when Lisa Fredman, a Boston University epidemiologist, first saw such results emerging from her study of elderly women, “I thought, what on earth is going on here?” she recalled. “I blamed myself. I thought something was wrong with my data.”

But over locations (Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and Portland, Ore.), Dr. Fredman and her colleagues found that while caregivers were indeed more stressed, they still had lower mortality rates than non-caregivers, over eight years of follow-up.

For more go to: NYTimes.newoldage.blog.com

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