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Inter-Spousal Mortality Effects

Inter-Spousal Mortality Effects

Caregiver Burden Across the Spectrum of Disabling Disease

(p.455) 15 Inter-Spousal Mortality Effects
Health at Older Ages
Nicholas A. Christakis, Paul D. Allison
University of Chicago Press

This chapter, which examines the possible externalities of health and disability on caregivers and others who may be affected by those who are ill or functionally impaired, also explores the influence of serious illness on the health and mortality of spouses. The diagnosis of most cancers in a wife does not appear to affect her husband's risk of death within six months. Hospitalization for a variety of serious conditions in husbands increases the risk of their wife's death within six months of the diagnosis. The diagnosis-specific data indicate that possibly a substantial part of the widower effect may be linked not to the death of the spouse, but to the fact that they were ill with particular kinds of diseases before they died. The results generally support the idea of an externality, or multiplier impact, of illness and disability beyond the individual affected directly, extending to those who care for them.

Keywords:   health, disability, caregivers, mortality, spouses, hospitalization, death

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