Posted on Nov 10, 2013

A new study may connect taking care of a loved one with a chronic illness or disability could increase life expectancy by as much as nine months, sources say.

The study, completed by Johns Hopkins University Center on Aging and Health, was published in the October 2013 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study compared data of 3,503 family caregivers against 3,503 individuals who weren’t caregivers over the course of several years.

“Taking care of a chronically ill person in your family is often associated with stress,” said David Roth, first author of the study and director of the center at Johns Hopkins. “We did not find any subgroup of caregivers in the sample that appeared to be vulnerable to increased mortality risks.”

Study participants were all over 45 years of age and matched on demographics such as health history, health behaviors, and other crucial lifestyle factors. The study found that after six years, caregivers demonstrated a reduced death rate of 18%. While the researchers running the study state that the results may not apply to every type of caregiver, every group of caregivers in the study seemed to have improved life expectancy.

“If highly stressful situations can be avoided or managed effectively, caregiving may actually offer some health benefits for both the care recipients and the caregivers,” said Roth, “Including reduced risk of death for those providing care.”

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Sean D. Cuddigan
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