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Study Finds Spouse's Health Waxes and Wanes Closely With Those of Their Partners

by Kathy Jones on May 7, 2011 at 8:02 PM
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 Study Finds Spouse's Health Waxes and Wanes Closely With Those of Their Partners

A new study says that spouses have a much greater impact on their partner's health than previously known.

It finds strong associations between the physical and emotional health of older married couples - and provides important new information on the psychological toll of physical limitations in old age.

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Researchers from the University of British Columbia and Pennsylvania State University tracked the emotional and physical histories of more than 1,700 older couples over a 15-year period, using data from a major U.S. survey. Participants ranged in age from 76 to 90 and many had been married for more than 40 years.

In individuals and couples, the researchers found a strong relationship between "depressive symptoms" (unhappiness, loneliness and restlessness) and "functional limitations" - the physical inability to perform such basic tasks as climbing stairs, picking up objects, cooking and shopping.
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"This study shows how important marital relationships can be in determining old age health," said lead author Prof Christiane Hoppmann of UBC's Dept. of Psychology.

"Being married for a long time is a very specific situation, it really ties your lives together," said Hoppmann, whose previous research has explored happiness in older couples.

"These findings show just how interdependent, emotionally and physically, long-term couples can become," she added.

The study has been published in the American Psychological Association's journal Health Psychology.

Source: ANI
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