Stay Together, Ail Together
In findings that give new meaning to
the vow "in sickness and in health," researchers report a strong association
between an individual's health and that of his or her spouse.
to the report in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health,
Journal of the American Public Health Association, middle-aged couples,
particularly those earning the least amount of money, tend to experience joint
The general implication. . . is that family
The findings highlight the need for healthcare providers to pay
attention to the health of spouses, particularly when dealing with poorer or
Nearly 13% of couples in the lowest income
bracket reported poor health among both spouses, compared with less than 1% of
those making the most money. Couples in which both spouses lacked a high school
education were also at particular risk for having poor health.
obstacles (income and education) are further compounded when both partners are
in need of care, since they are less able to provide the assistance promised in
their wedding vows.
On an individual level, people should realize that
lifestyle factors that may have contributed to a spouse's poor health, such as
smoking, a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, may contribute to their own
poor health. If possible, couples in which one spouse is sick might want to
evaluate their financial plans and purchase additional health, disability or
long-term care insurance before an illness.
The findings are based on a
review of data from more than 4,700 married couples aged 51 to 61 years.
Individuals were asked to rate their own health. They also answered questions
about their ability to perform activities such as walking several blocks,
climbing a flight of stairs, pulling or pushing large objects, and bathing
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