Excerpt of article by Reuters and seen on Fox News
Spouses of stroke survivors may themselves face lasting mental and physical health issues, according to a new study. Caregiver spouses are at an increased risk of mental and physical health issues even seven years after their caregiving, said lead author Josefine Persson, a Ph.D. candidate at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
The spouses of stroke survivors reported lower general health than the spouses of (a comparison group), which might be due to perceived stress or strain for a long period, or due to shared lifestyle factors, Persson told Reuters Health by email.
Society, she said, should “provide support to reduce the burden on spouses.”
Her team followed 248 stroke survivors under age 70 and their spouses for seven years and compared them to 245 similar couples without a stroke. The spouses’ average age was roughly 65 years; about two-thirds were women.
At the end of the study, compared to spouses in the non-stroke group, the stroke survivors’ spouses scored lower on all general health and mental health domains of a 36-item health related quality of life questionnaire. They also scored lower for their physical role at home.
As the stroke survivors’ levels of disability, cognitive ability, and depressive symptoms increased, the caregiving spouses’ quality of life scores tended to decrease, the authors reported in the journal Stroke.
The chronic stress of providing informal care to a loved one can be associated with increases in stress hormones and inflammation, which may raise the risk of depression and inflammatory diseases like cardiovascular disease, according to Karen L. Saban of Loyola University Chicago in Illinois, who was not part of the new study.
Some people may be more vulnerable to the chronic stress of caregiving, she told Reuters Health by email. “For example, caregivers with good social support may be at lower risk of experiencing the effects of chronic stress,” Saban said.
Thanks to Reuters for writing the article; Fox News for sharing the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text in this post.