A new study shows that those who care for their spouses who have been diagnosed with dementia may be at a higher risk of developing the same disorder, according to findings published in the Journal of American Geriatrics.
More than 1,200 married couples aged 65 years and older participated in the Cache Memory Study, which screened individuals for dementia and had them complete surveys to determine their cognitive status.
The team of researchers found that more than 250 of the participants were suffering from dementia, and that the spouses of these patients were at a six-times higher risk of developing the illness.
From the study, the researchers concluded that the main reason there was an increased risk in developing dementia in caregivers was because of the stress related to caring for their spouses. To lower the risk of being diagnosed with dementia, the study suggests that physicians who treat dementia patients should also work with their spouses, and caregivers by helping them lower their stress.
“Caregiving has positive aspects, as well as negative ones. If we can boost the positive aspects and reduce the negative ones, we may be able to reduce a caregivers risk of developing dementia,” said Peter Rabins, a psychiatry professor at John Hopkins University.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, one in eight people aged 65 years and older are diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, the most common form of dementia.