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Caring for the disabled affects health of caregivers, study shows

Those who are disabled face a number of challenges. Perhaps they can work, but often they can't. Perhaps they can drive, although often they can't. A disabled person may be able to care for him or herself, but it is also likely that a disabled person will depend upon a caregiver who is usually a family member.

There are resources for the disabled person, such as Social Security disability benefits, but what about the caregiver? It makes sense that being a caregiver takes a physical and mental toll on a person. Recently a study has shown what we intuitively know -- that being a caregiver can be hazardous to your health.

The study was reported in the Research in Developmental Disabilities publication. Although it was not a large study, just 35 parents of children with developmental disabilities and a control group of 30 other parents, the study was detailed in terms of its measurements.

The parents who were followed had their blood pressure, an important indicator, measured during every point within a 24 hour period. Not surprisingly, the blood pressure of the parents caring for children with disabilities was elevated compared to the control group of parents.

What was surprising however was that the blood pressure did not seem to correlate to the issues related to their children with autism or Down's syndrome, but did correlate to the amount of social support the parents received.

The moral of the story seems to be that the findings highlight the need for better supports for caregivers.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Disability Caregiving Can Be Health Hazard, Study Finds," Shaun Heasley, Dec. 17, 2012

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