Today’s Headlines: Caregiving, Best Friends and Vitamin D

Women bear the burden of caregiving more than men. As the U.S. population ages, more and more people are called on to care for elderly parents. A new study out this week finds that “women step up to provide care for their aging parents more than twice as often as men…In families with children of both sexes, the gender of the child is the single biggest factor in determining who will provide care for the aging parent: Daughters will increase the time they spend with an elderly parent to compensate for sons who reduce theirs, effectively ceding the responsibility to their sisters.” The researchers noted that rather than basing their decision on how much time they could possibly provide, men tended to focus more on whether the duties were already being adequately handled by others. One author notes “the data suggest that despite a shift toward more gender equality in the United States in the past few decades, the imbalance is ‘acute’ when it comes to caring for aging parents.” (Washington Post)

One in 10 lack a best friend. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on, but not everyone may have a close confidant to go to in times of trouble. A new study from the U.K. has found that “One in 10 people questioned said they did not have a close friend…[and] while the survey found 85% of individuals questioned felt they had a good relationship with their partners, 19% had never or rarely felt loved in the two weeks before the survey.” While the study shows a majority of people have healthy, close relationships it also reveals that a significant number of people live without these strong connections. The researchers point out that “relationships are the asset which can get us through good times and bad, and it is worrying to think that there are people who feel they have no one they can turn to during life’s challenges. We know that strong relationships are vital for both individuals and society as a whole, so investing in them is crucial.” (Guardian)

Vitamin D may help your asthma. Supplementing your sun exposure with a vitamin D supplement may help your lung function. Researchers got the idea from the observation that asthma is more common in northern parts of the globe where vitamin D is lower because of less sun exposure. “Asthma sufferers who received vitamin D supplements for six months, in addition to their regular inhalers, could breathe a little easier than those who relied only on the inhalers. The researchers say the results, if confirmed by larger studies, might help the many people who sometimes have troublesome asthma symptoms even though they use medication.” Important to note is that these results reflected only how well lungs were functioning, which didn’t necessarily correlate with whether participants felt better. A physician should always be consulted before starting new supplements or medications. (Fox)