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Published on: June 9, 2013
by April Clarkson for News Fix:
According to a study, having a spouse with dementia significant increases an older adult’s risk of developing dementia themselves. In addition, men appear to be at greater risk of developing incident dementia than women.
The Cache County Study on Memory Health and Aging is a longitudinal, population-based study of dementia in a rural county in northern Utah. Researchers from the University of Utah and their colleagues studied 1,221 married couples aged 65 and older in order to examine the effects of caring for a spouse with dementia on the caregiver’s risk for developing dementia.
The latest results from the study show that, among adults aged 65 years and older, those adults who had a spouse with dementia had a 6-fold increased risk for dementia compared to those adults whose spouses were dementia-free. In gender-specific analyses, husbands were found to be at higher risk than wives.
It may be that the chronic and often severe stress associated with caring for a person with dementia contributes to a substantial risk for the development of dementia in the caregiver. However, more research is needed to see whether any of this association is due to a shared environment. Caring for a spouse with dementia is a natural marital obligation, and this possible increase in dementia risk among caregiver warrants further study.
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