Just in time for the largest generation in American history to retire, Case Western University researchers have provided pursuasive evidence that providing long-term care to elderly relatives is bad for you. The study of 110 families found increased tendencies toward arthritis, back trouble, hypertension, chronic fatigue and depression among family members charged with an aging relatives' care. About half the people studied were children caring for their parents. Half held down full-time jobs while taking responsibility for an aging parent. Nearly two-thirds of the relatives in a care-giving role, 64 percent, were women. The average age of a caregiver was just over 58, and the average age of a person needing care was 82. This is one of very few studies to look at the emotional and health costs of eldercare, rather than the financial impact on families.
Sadly, it looks like satisfaction at helping one's mother or father through the challenges of aging don't pay off in lighter symptoms for the caregiver, according to the study. The harder people worked on providing care, the higher their odds of developing depression, the researchers found.
Still, she's your mom, right? One copes.