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Spouses who take care of their sick partners cope better when their partners die than spouses who take no role in caregiving.

Following 819 married couples, ages 66 through 99 years, Richard Schulz of the University of Pittsburgh found that those who were active in care had lower rates of depression, weight loss and poor health.

"While caregivers can become depressed after the death of their spouse, in many ways the death can actually bring relief from some of the more demanding tasks of caregiving," Schulz reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Death also brings an end to their partner's suffering and allows them to get back into a more normal routine."

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