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It’s All About the Cortisol

At the bottom of last week’s blog post, I shared a link to a recent Reuters story about another eye-opening study on the stress of caring for a family member with dementia and the stress-relieving benefits of having support during the day.

The research team used cortisol level readings to drive the study, and the findings are pretty telling. In short, during stressful times (which caregivers know all-too-well), your cortisol levels may go too high or too low compared to what is considered normal range. This can lead to feelings of “burnout,” depression, cognitive problems, a suppressed immune system and other illnesses.

But the study went a step further to shed light on the immense benefits that family caregivers get from building in a daytime care solution for their loved one. Specifically, having a safe and loving sanctuary like The Ivey – where the family member living with Alzheimer’s or other type of memory loss can spend some of their days – has a direct physiological impact on the caregiver’s cortisol levels, leading to a reduction in stress, improvement in immune system functioning, and more enjoyable days overall.

The study also showed that “better cortisol regulation began in the morning, even before the study participant’s loved one left for the day.” Seems the positive effects of having a daytime care solution in place are measurable even before and after the loved one’s actual day(s) spent there. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving!

I’d like to give each and every one of those super-smart, white-coated scientists a huge hug, because I celebrate any research that helps prove what we see each and every day here at The Ivey – that family caregivers who partner with us to help care for their loved one during the day are ultimately happier, healthier people who are able to truly enjoy their time with their loved one and be fully present with them when they are together.

Maybe we should re-brand The Ivey Memory Wellness Day Center as “The Ivey Cortisol Control Center.” On second thought…nah. But I do want more and more family caregivers in Charlotte to truly understand the lasting physical and emotional benefits of taking advantage of our services – not just for your loved one, but for YOU!

Got a comment? I love ’em! Email them here and I’ll read and reply.