The Chronic Stress of Caregiving Accelerates the Natural Aging of the Immune System



Caregiving for a spouse with dementia is highly distressing. On average, spouses serving as dementia caregivers spend more than 10 h per day providing care for over 5 years. During this time, they experience a type of “living bereavement” as they watch their partners slowly lose their personality and intellect.

Given this burden, spouses serving as dementia caregivers are at heightened risk for depression with a 46 % prevalence rate, anxiety with a 25 % prevalence rate, and poor sleep quality. In addition, having lower social support increases the burden perceived by caregivers. These negative effects are particularly detrimental for spousal dementia caregivers because they are typically older adults who are also experiencing a natural decline in immunocompetence. In turn, they are at increased risk for a number of different illnesses as well as earlier mortality.


Caregiving Herpesviruses Wound healing Inflammation Vaccine Responses 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Oral Biology, College of Dentistry, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, College of MedicineThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, College of MedicineThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, College of MedicineThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyThe University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA

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