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Long-term Caregiving May Shorten Life Up To Eight Years

Human_brain_picture_165499...The team’s research provided physical evidence that the effects of chronic stress, which is often part of the caregiving life, can be seen both at the genetic and molecular levels. They used volunteers who were Alzheimer’s caregivers and compared them with an equal number of non-caregivers matched for age, gender and other health and environmental aspects. The researchers looked at blood samples from each group for differences in the telomeres as well as populations of immune cells. According to Glaser, “Caregivers showed the same kind of patterns present in the study of mothers of chronically ill kids.” He added that the changes the Ohio State-NIA team saw amounted to a shortened lifespan of four to eight years. The researchers believe that the changes in these immune cells represent the complete cell population in the body, suggesting that all the body's cells have aged the same amount as the immune cells. 

Read full article on HealthCentral about the toll of long-term caregiving:

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