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Caring for Others Prolongs Life

Caregivers Live Longer

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Researchers from several international universities have found that seniors that provide caregiving services live longer than those that do not. The scientists analyzed survival data and information collected from the Berlin Aging Study on 500 adults over the age of 69 from 1990 to 2009. They compared survival rates from the subjects that provided caregiving for children, grandchildren and friends to those that did not.

Of the subjects analyzed, the half that took care of their grandchildren or children were still alive 10 years after their first interview in 1990. Caring for non-family members also produced positive results, with half of the subjects living for seven years after the initial interview. Conversely, 50 percent of those that did not participate in any caregiving had died just four years after their first interview.

The researchers warn that caregiving must be done in moderation. Ralph Hertwig, director of the Center for Adaptive Rationality and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, in Berlin, explains, “A moderate level of caregiving involvement seems to have positive effects on health, but previous studies have shown that more intense involvement causes stress, which has a negative effect on physical and mental health.”


This article appears in the September 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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