Couples’ Physical Health Becomes More Alike Over Time : Shots – Health News : NPR – May 22, 2016 by Lindsay Peterson
This is another sad situation arising from a person’s chronic pain: the people around them are burdened as well, emotionally by having to watch suffering and physically by having to help out.
Researchers are learning that as we age in relationships, we change biologically to become more like our partners than we were in the beginning.
Mejia and her colleagues have found striking similarities between partners who have spent decades together, especially in
- kidney function,
- total cholesterol levels and
- the strength of their grips, which is a key predictor of mortality.
They also found that the effects crossed over from the mental to the physical. In other words, increases in feelings of depression in one spouse led to more daily task limitations in the other.
Nevertheless, they say, the implications for health care are clear.
People in relationships don’t experience chronic health problems on their own.
When a spouse comes in with a problem, the other spouse could be part of the cause — or the solution.
I’ve noticed how the energy level in my home has declined over the years. My husband has helped me “keep up” as much as possible, but his exposure to the slowing of my lifestyle inevitably drains his energy as well.
He encourages me to be active and helps me get ready for activities, but he can’t help me participate. As my pain has increased the scope of my life has decreased proportionally, my participation in social life and activities has lagged, and my physical activity has lessened.
I have to pace myself according to my pain level and this has slowed me down considerably over the long years of pain. My supportive husband, who has been a true companion through all these years, has been dragged down by my decreasing energy as well.
I feel a bit guilty for this, but though we’re both handicapped by my limits, we both know I’m not at fault. Instead, we’re both working hard to build our life around my limitations.