October 30, 2017
A study has found that marriage or a close relationship is correlated with protection against dementia. The study, conducted by Loughborough University and published in Journals of Gerontology, found that those in close partnerships had about a 60 percent less chance of developing dementia.
The study followed 6,677 adults between the ages of 50 and 90 for almost seven years. None had dementia at the beginning of the study, but 220 were diagnosed with it by the conclusion.
The researchers studied the social lives of those participating in the study. They found that quality of close relationships, rather than size of social circles, seemed to be related with a lower rate of dementia. “You can be surrounded by people, but it is the number of close relationships that is associated with a reduced risk for dementia … it’s not about the quantity,” said lead author Dr. Eef Hogervorst, Ph.D.
Meaningful social connections have been shown to be key in warding off loneliness throughout aging. The study also found that dementia patients were typically less educated, older and had less wealth than those who did not develop dementia.
Researchers believe that close friendships keep people from living a more sedentary lifestyle, which can ward off cardiovascular disease, a known risk factor for dementia. Social interaction also prevents cognitive decline.
Research suggested that single people are twice as likely to develop dementia. But to put that into perspective, that’s only one extra person per 100 people. Regardless of marital status, warding off loneliness and maintaining a sense of purpose seems to be key in dementia prevention.
Read the full write-up here.