An aging American population means more adults are assuming the responsibility of caring for their elderly parents. And, according to a new study from the University of Michigan, the stress of caregiving is often heightened by increased conflict between family members over the distribution of that responsibility. The study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, looked at 861 adult caregivers and measured their stress based upon the patients’ particular impairments and the likelihood of family conflict. Among the results, the study found that daughters were more likely than sons to devote additional time to caring for their ailing parents as they became more dependent. Sons, on the other hand, were found to be more likely to ask other family members for help, which resulted in more opportunities for conflict over shared responsibility and support. More here.
How much stress you feel and how you react under stressful situations affects your heart, whether it has a direct physical effect or leads to behaviors proven to increase risk such as smoking or overeating. Learning to effectively manage stress is an important part of maintaining a healthy heart and avoiding numerous health problems associated with stress, such as high blood pressure, asthma, and ulcers. Experts recommend managing stress with relaxation and natural techniques rather than medication and tranquilizing drugs. Exercising, maintaining a positive attitude, not smoking, cutting back on coffee, and maintaining a healthy weight and diet are among the top recommendations from the American Heart Association on how to manage stress and reduce risk of cardiovascular trouble. More here.
Despite the common assumption that most older adults suffering from dementia live and die in nursing homes, a new study shows that not to be true. The study, led by Christopher M. Callahan, MD, of the Indiana University School of Medicine, looked at the records of more than 1,500 dementia patients and found that, though 74 percent of the time patients went to a nursing home after hospitalization, nearly a quarter were returned to the hospital within a month and many of the rest were returned home to be cared for by family. The study highlights the complicated nature of family caregiving and the stress that occurs when a patient is shuttled back-and-forth between care settings. The results also revealed that most elderly dementia patients are cared for in the community by family and friends. More here.