There is a very serious article on MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36975938/ns/health-aging/) concerning a strong correlation between caring for a spouse with dementia and developing dementia oneself. The first paragraph raises grave concerns:
“Being married to someone with dementia may sharply increase your own risk of developing the condition, a new study shows.”
There is no causal link established yet, but one very significant point is made by Dr. Gary Small of UCLA:
“‘Caregiving is very stressful,’ said Dr. Gary W. Small, director of the University of California-Los Angeles, Center on Aging and director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Division at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. ‘Studies have shown that caregivers for dementia patients have a high risk for major clinical depression. And there has been a study that showed that people who are prone to stress are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s.'”
To those of us in the home care industry — or family caregivers — the stress level is not news. However, the issue of stress related to Alzheimer’s risks is something on which we all really need to focus. It reinforces how important it is for the family caregiver — whom we already know has the hardest job in the world — to receive adequate respite and support.
If you or a family member face this situation, talk to a social worker with knowledge of gerontology about options, or give a solid, certified home care agency a call, just to talk about your situation. There is help!
Best wishes, Bert