Nursing a loved one can make you ill
Caring for a loved one who is ill can make the caregiver sick, too — possibly by aging the immune system, US researchers said on Monday.
They found evidence that the stress of nursing a family member — in this case, patients with Alzheimer’s disease — can damage the immune system, leading to disease and early death. The researchers, led by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, studied 225 people with an average age of 70. A total of 119 of them were taking care of a spouse with Alzheimer’s or had taken care of someone who had died of Alzheimer’s. “This is key evidence for one pathway through which chronic stress may pose potent health consequences in older people. It may well accelerate the risk of a host of age-related diseases as well as deaths,” Kiecolt-Glaser said in a statement. “Stress and depression can permanently alter the responsiveness of the immune system,” added colleague Ronald Glaser.
Other research has shown that people who nurse a loved one for long periods of time have a 63 percent higher mortality rate over the same period of time than people not taking care of a disabled family member. —Reuters