Many articles on caregiving discuss the stress that caregivers bear, and subsequently offer coping and stress management tips. With this in mind, it is surprising that a recent study, published in The American Journal of Epidemiology, suggests the opposite—caregiving makes people healthier.
David Roth, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, and his team compared 3,500 family caregivers aged 45 and older with non-caregivers of the same age, gender, education level and health. The caregivers studied included spouses and adult children, as well as people caring for other family members.
Six years after the beginning of the study (known as “the healthy caregiver hypothesis”), the researchers found that the non-caregivers had significantly higher mortality rates, much to Roth and his team’s surprise. Compared with non-caregivers, the caregivers had a nine-month increase in life expectancy.