Older married adults whose spouses have dementia are at significantly higher risk for developing dementia themselves compared to similar older married adults whose spouse never develops dementia. This is the key finding of a study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Utah State University Professor Maria Norton led the research for the study. The study reports that informal dementia caregiving for a spouse is a natural marital obligation and spousal caregivers often report positive feelings toward caregiving, yet it is difficult requiring time, energy and usually physical exertion.Dementia caregivers have been shown to provide more assistance and to report more personal sacrifices and stress than those who care for physically impaired elderly without dementia. Norton says future studies are needed to determine how much of this association is due to caregiver stress compared to a shared environment.She says more research is needed to explore which factors distinguish those who are more vulnerable.
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