of a new study suggest that the health effects of caring for
a patient with Alzheimer's disease linger six to 12 months
after the spouse has died or been placed in a healthcare facility.
at the University of California, San Diego studied 119 caregivers
for at least 18 months, monitoring the caregivers' moods,
blood pressure, and medical symptoms at six month intervals.
Forty-eight non-caregivers served as controls.
reporting in Psychosomatic Medicine, found that caregivers
whose spouses had been placed in a healthcare facility or
who had died showed improvement in both depressive and physical
symptoms compared to caregivers whose spouses remained at
reported that the systolic blood pressure of all caregivers
-- including those whose spouse had been placed in a healthcare
facility or died died -- was "significantly higher"
than that of non-caregivers.
improvement seen in mood and medical symptoms among caregivers
who place their spouses or experience the spouse's death,
there may be longer term physiological (changes)," the
researchers said, noting that the cardiovascular system could
continue to respond to acute stress factors for six to 12
months after transitions.
of June 16, 2002