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Senior Health Week: Alzheimer's Disease
Health News You Can Use •

Alzheimer News:

Study: Health Effects Linger for Alzheimer Caregivers

Results 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.

Researchers 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.

The researchers, 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 home.

But they 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.

"Despite 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.

Source: Alzheimer Week of June 16, 2002

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