A fi sau a nu fi...liber

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22/12/2008

Healthy marriages the key to partners' health

(NaturalNews) Wise men throughout the ages have taught us the value of giving and sharing. And, on our wedding day, we vow to take care of our spouses "in sickness and in heath, till death do us part". Now, a recent study has given us a piece of empirical evidence in support of the wisdom of the seemingly paradoxical phrase, "when you give, you receive". The interesting study, conducted at the University of Michigan, found that older people who spent at least 14 hours each week taking care of a disabled spouse lived longer than their counterparts who did not.

Details of Study

For the study, researchers looked at 7 years of data collected from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging and covered Americans aged 70 and higher. In all, the habits and lifespan of 1,688 couples who lived on their own were analyzed.

The study started in 1993. At that point, the study participants reported on how much help they got from their spouse with regard to daily activities. These included eating, dressing, bathing, preparing meals, managing money and taking medications. 81% or so said they did not receive any help, 9% said they got less than 14 hours of help per week, while the remaining 10% reported getting 14 hours or more of help every week.

Findings of Study

In the course of the study, 909 of the subjects, about a quarter of the group, passed on. After factors such as health, age, race, gender, education and employment status were accounted for, the research team found that those who cared for their spouses the most (quantitatively, in terms of the number of hours) were significantly less likely to have passed on during the period of the study.

"These findings suggest that caregivers may actually benefit from providing care under some circumstances. Previous studies have documented negative health effects of caregiving. But the current results show that it is time to disentangle the presumed stress of providing help from the stress of witnessing a loved one suffer," said Stephanie Brown, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School as well as a faculty associate at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR), who was the leader of the study.

The Benefits of Giving and Caring for Those Around Us

According to Brown, these findings add to growing evidence on the positive effects on health of caregiving, helping and altruism. Earlier, she had shown in other research that the provision of social support to friends and relatives has beneficial effects on mortality as well as coping with the loss of a spouse.

She has a theory on this – that human beings may not necessarily be that selfish and governed by self-interest, but that the forces of evolution may actually favor altruistic motivation between interdependent individuals. "There is growing recognition that economic decisions may be influenced by complex motivations, not limited to self-interest. We don't know yet exactly how caregiving motivation and behavior might influence health, but it could be that helping another person - especially someone you love - relieves some of the harmful stress effects of seeing that person suffer," she said.

Brown will be furthering her research on this area, looking into how altruistic and helpful behavior, which includes caregiving, actually enhances wellbeing. Due to start in 2009, this study's focus is on the neuro-affective mechanisms of such behavior.

As though tending to the needs of the spouse we vowed to go through thick and thin with as well as loving and caring for those around us needed any more reasons, the findings of this study has now given us hope of one very tangible and measurable benefit – a longer life!

Main Source

In Sickness And Health: Caring For Ailing Spouse May Prolong Your Life (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20...)

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