Caregivers of ill relatives and loved ones are at increased risk of developing anxiety themselves, according to new research. Previous research has shown that massage therapy benefits the health and well-being of caregivers.

With the baby boomer generation not only caring for aged parents but aging themselves, the area of massage for caregivers is one that could provide increased opportunity for healthy touch.

In the new research, investigators found that when a person with mild cognitive impairment is agitated or restless, caregivers can expect to find they are more edgy as well.

According to the research conducted at Virginia Tech, the more a caregiver’s day is disrupted by the unsettled behaviors of their loved one, the more they find themselves unable to meet or balance their own home and family work loads. This heightens the effect of elevated stress levels on their own bodies, placing caregivers at risk for current and future health problems.

Mild cognitive impairment, a transitional stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, is characterized by changes in memory that may not interfere with everyday activities but can cause frustration and anxiety among persons with the impairment and their family members.

The Alzheimer’s Association and the Commonwealth of Virginia Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases Research Award Fund supported this research.

The research was reported in the Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

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