Magazine article Aging Today

New Study Reveals Unusual Early Mortality Risk to People with Dementia-Their Caregivers

Magazine article Aging Today

New Study Reveals Unusual Early Mortality Risk to People with Dementia-Their Caregivers

Article excerpt

In what is thought to be the first study to link caregiver mental health to the mortality of patients with dementia, a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that people with dementia may die earlier if their family caregivers are mentally stressed. The study, "Poor Caregiver Mental Health Predicts Mortality of Patients with Neurodegenerative Disease," was published in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (http://bit.ly/2h9Jj76').

Researchers tracked, from 2007 to 2016, the mortality of 176 patients with neurodegenerative diseases that are corrosive to brain function, while also measuring the mental health of family members caring for the patients. They found that patients having caregivers who were depressed, anxious or had other symptoms of mental illness died earlier (on an average of 14 months) than those whose caregivers had good mental health.

"Our finding of the strong relationship between patient survival and caregiver mental health underscores the profound intertwining of the lives and well-being of caregivers and patients as they engage in one of life's most challenging and intimate relationships," said senior study author Robert Levenson, a Berkeley psychology professor.

Study researchers from the Berkeley Psychophysiology Laboratory examined patient-caregiver pairs, and caregivers reported on their own health and emotional well-being. Patients were assessed during annual appointments and through phone updates at the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. …

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