Seniors whose lives revolve around caring for their incapacitated spouses often feel older than their years. It may be more than a feeling, according to a new study.
Over a 6-year period, marital Samaritans caring for a spouse with Alzheimer's disease or another brain disorder exhibited a dramatic average increase in blood concentrations of a protein involved in immune regulation, concludes a team led by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and Ronald Glaser, both of Ohio State University in Columbus. During that same time, seniors with healthy spouses displayed a much smaller increase in blood concentrations of the substance, interleukin-6 (IL-6).
As people age, they typically produce IL-6 in larger quantities. Earlier investigations linked particularly high concentrations of IL-6 to heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, periodontal disease, and intensified rea