Although an emotional burden lightens for elderly people when a spouse with Alzheimer's disease dies or is placed in a nursing home, the former caregiver's blood pressure rises for at least 1 year after this transition, a new study suggests. During this period of physical vulnerability, further stress may undermine heart and blood vessel function, propose psychiatrist Igor Grant of the University of California, San Diego and his colleagues.
The scientists gathered initial data from 119 people caring in their homes for a spouse with Alzheimer's disease. The volunteers were studied again after 6 months and 1 year. Participants' spouses were about equally distributed among four groups: those receiving home care throughout the study, those residing in a nursing facility at the second and third assessments, those living in a facility at the second assessment and then having died before the study concluded, and those having died at home by the second assessment. Caregivers averaged