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Pardon my french please but the 2 months we took care of my father aged me at least 5 years - so to answer your question....a shitload of years!
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Reply to Laceysterror
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I am trying to figure out a study we can do to measure this.
Let's see. Take two people. One gives care. The other doesn't. Which lives longest.
Which wishes he or she were dead first.
Just teasing you, but how could we ever know?
At the end of their lives, my Mom in her late 80s seemed to me to be failing, and my Dad, in his mid 90s strong. Then my dad weakened and my Mom stepped up to care for him, and for those two or three years she became so vibrant, so strong. She seemed to thrive. He didn't have dementia, and I think the toll of that is more than almost anyone can bear, as you are caring for someone you cannot recognize and who cannot recognize you.
I think it is more our own personalities that take years off our lives.
I can become so anxious when order slips. My OCD kicks in and I become almost paralyzed by the physical reaction of the anxiety. You know the drill if you get it--slamming heart, confusion, almost a loss of hearing. I think that has to not be good for the body, given that cortisol levels seem implicated in cancers and so on. It has to be hard on both our bodies and our minds, I think.
But there won't be a way of measuring it unless we can do another identical twins study.
Let's see. One twin gets the parents. The other gets cruise trips and dinners out.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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GrannieAnnie Sep 7, 2019
Love your humor Alvadeer.  My Mom was older than Dad, but cared for him, even when dementia began.  We 3 kids and a neighbor told her we feared she'd die first (yes, we helped out). They were in their 70's and decided to go with the NH for him.  He was dead not long after.  Mom lasted till she was 95! So I have no idea how many years.
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I literally aged 10 years in one dealing with my dad and his issues. You can still see the age, not to mention the stress weight. I don't think I will ever be the same, and not in a good way.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Arselle2 Sep 8, 2019
It sounds like it really took a toll on you :(
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I think various stressors in life can impair our resistance to disease. (Without proper recovery time, any long term stress can cause us to lose years). The thing about elder caregiving, IMO, is that many of us are elderly ourselves, (and therefore already less resilient). Adding caregiving to the mix affects us much more therefore...(than it wud have years ago).
Double whammy if you see what I mean.
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Reply to Tiger55
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I dont know how many years it took off but it took about 10 years of my life. Im lucky, I am young enough to reverse the damage.
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Reply to tacy022
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If caregiving does not shorten your life, for sure the remaining years you have left to live....one does not want to live them.
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Reply to Sendhelp
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Up to 8 years..... https://www.lbda.org/go/long-term-caregiving-may-shorten-life-eight-years

My parents had a fun filled wonderful retirement and they lived into their mid-to-late 90's. Will I? I doubt it :(

My bucket list is now a thimble list.... [sigh]
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Reply to freqflyer
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Arselle2 Sep 8, 2019
So it's true! I wonder whether there are similiar studies on nurses, social workers, and others in the professional "helping" careers!
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A care recipient, sometimes known as a LO who takes your care for granted, exploits you, treats you like a servant, never gives you a sense of accomplishments for your assistance, manipulates you to feel like you aren't doing enough, insults you or your efforts, and plays with your feelings... each one of these variables will cause grey hair, stooped posture, jowls, intestinal sluggishness, PTSD and finally... death,
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Reply to Arselle2
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What, you want a definitive answer?
My grandmother cared for my grandfather for about a decade, in my memory he was always frail and by the end he was mostly confused and bed bound (and keep in mind we didn't have any of the conveniences and supports that are available today). My grandmother died some 15 years later in her 91st year - do you suppose she may have lived longer if she hadn't been a caregiver?
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NYDaughterInLaw Sep 10, 2019
I think your reply is interesting, Cwillie. Marriage has been shown to help men live longer. Your grandfather would have died sooner were it not for his wife and your grandmother may well have made it to 100 had she not been his caregiver. I also think it's different to care for a spouse, whom one chooses to marry, than for a parent or other family member.
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I personally think we all have X amount of days on earth, whether we're caregivers or not. It's up to us how we choose to use those days, I guess, and how we cope with whatever life throws our way. While the stress of caregiving should never be minimized, I suppose the effect the stress would have on a person would vary greatly. Stress can kill, but then again, so can a car accident or cardiac arrest.
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