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MENTAL ILLNESS: Spouses of dementia patients more likely to develop the illness, too

Posted May 11 2010 12:00am
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Compiled from reports by Free Press news services

Previous PageMarried adults who have a spouse with dementia are much more likely themselves to develop dementia, according to a study published last week in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study suggested that either the stress of being a caregiver or something about the shared environment of the couple contributes to the second case of dementia.
Researchers from Utah examined 2,442 married people ages 65 and older, none of whom had dementia at the start of the study. They were monitored for 12 years.
During that time, 125 cases of dementia were diagnosed in husbands and 70 cases in wives and 30 cases in which both the husband and wife were diagnosed. The analysis showed that people with a spouse with dementia had a six times higher risk of developing dementia themselves. The risk, however, was much higher for men caring for their wives than for wives caring for their husbands.
"On the positive side, the majority of these individuals with spouses who develop dementia did not themselves develop dementia," said lead author of the study, Dr. Maria Norton of Utah State University

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