|Research tells us that family caregivers actually live longer.|
As a caregiver charged with the task of caring for a senior loved one, you intimately understand the mental and physical stresses that go along with the job. From the sleepless nights to the frequent heavy lifting, taking on the role of caregiver can truly take its toll. In fact, hundreds of studies show how senior caregivers commonly suffer from bouts of stress, depression, physical exhaustion and illness. These facts might lead you to think that senior caregivers face a shorter lifespan, but it’s actually quite the opposite. In fact, despite the high rate of stress and illness, research tells us that family caregivers actually live longer than non-caregivers.
Life as a Caregiver
Caring for senior loved ones, particularly those suffering from dementia, is a job that comes with a lot of ups and downs. In some aspects, it’s just like any other job; you have good days and bad days. There are personal rewards that go along with caring for a parent or elder family member, especially when you can see physical and mental improvements. It feels great to know your efforts are having a positive effect. It’s likely these kind of life-affirming moments that grant family caregivers a lower mortality rate.
In 2010, a groundbreaking study was conducted and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Over a period of eight years, researchers followed a group of family caregivers and an identical group of non-caregivers. The team discovered that the group of caregivers actually lived longer than their non-caregiver counterparts. They came to a conclusion: as an occupation, caregiving does not increase the risk of poor health or speed up a decline in health. Only the effects of short-term stress harm the body and decrease the lifespan.
Taking the information a bit further, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2013 compared a group of 3,503 family caregivers to a group of 3,503 non-caregivers. Both groups were studies for a period of six years. At the final follow-up, the researchers found that only 7.5 percent of the caregivers died, while 9 percent of the non-caregivers died during the same period. The team concluded that, despite the stress of caring for senior loved ones, caregivers are actually 18 percent less likely to die than non-caregivers.
The Joy of Caregiving
While you certainly experience forms of stress while caring for a senior loved one, the benefits seem to outweigh the risks. For instance, nothing can compare to the joy you feel when giving back to a beloved family member or the new bonds you form with them as a caregiver. In the end, though the road of a family caregiver can be bumpy at times, you wouldn’t have it any other way.
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About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visithttp://www.caregiverpartnership.com to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.