Be a helper and live longer

Created date

March 15th, 2017
Senior woman attending a senior man in hospital bed

Although being a full-time caregiver has been associated with an increased risk of stress and illness, helping or caring for others on a part-time basis can lead to a longer life, according to a new study.

An international team of researchers analyzed data from 1990 to 2009 provided by the Berlin Aging Study. They focused on survival rates of grandparents age 70 to 103 years who care for grandchildren on a part-time or occasional basis. They also evaluated older adults who are not grandparents but provide care for others within their family or social network.

Part-time caregiving 

They discovered that, on average, part-time caregiving has a positive effect on mortality of the caregiver. In fact, about half of the caregiver grandparents were still alive ten years after the initial 1990 interview, as were about half of the older adults who cared for other family or friends. On the other hand, half of the older adults who weren’t caregivers died within five years of the initial interview. 

The researchers caution that seniors shouldn’t allow themselves to be overburdened by caregiving because of the negative effects on health and well-being. Your doctor is a good resource if you feel caregiving is too stressful. You can find resources to help.