A study by the University of Michigan, in the United States, examined the evolution of 1,688 couples of old people and concluded that those who spend at least 14 hours per week taking care of their disabled partner live longer than others. "These findings suggest that people who they provide care they can, in fact, benefit under certain circumstances, "he says. Stephanie L. Brown , assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and lead author of the study article.
For the analysis, Brown and his team reviewed seven years of data from the Health and Retirement Study conducted by the university, with a representative sample of US citizens over 70 years of age. At the beginning of the study, the members of each couple separately indicated how much help they received from their spouse in a long list of daily activities, such as dressing, bathing, eating, cooking, using money and taking their medicines.
Most of them, about 81%, said they did not receive help from their spouses, 9% indicated that they received less than 14 hours of aid per week, and 10% indicated that they received 14 or more hours of help each week. During the course of the study, 909 people died, approximately 27% of the sample.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that individuals who gave at least 14 hours of weekly care to their spouses had significantly lower probabilities of not dying, than those who had not given spousal care. "We still do not know exactly how the motivation and behavior of the caregiver can influence their health, but it may well be that helping someone else, especially a loved one, alleviates some of the damaging effects of stress from seeing that person suffers, "Brown said. The University of Michigan will soon initiate new research to examine how altruistic and helpful behavior, including the care of another person, can improve well-being.