Married People Have Lower Risk of Dementia

Marriage could encourage both partners to exercise more and to eat better

The researchers pointed out that bereavement possibly boosted stress levels, which are related to impaired nerve signaling as well as cognitive abilities. This is particularly true of those who are elderly now, who grew up when it was not the social norm to be single, like it has been in more recent years.

A worldwide study has found that marriage and companionship lowers the chances of developing the disease.

"If people are not properly supported, dementia can be an incredibly isolating experience", he said.

'Recently, a number of studies exploring the link between marital status and dementia risk have hit the headlines.

Past research has also demonstrated that being married tends to result in healthier decision-making - things like increasing exercise and healthier eating, while smoking less and drinking less alcohol - all of which are believed to reduce the risk of dementia.

It seems that they were on to something.

In addition, six of the studies compared the dementia risk in people who were married and in people who were lifelong singles.

These steps are "particularly important for those at higher risk of dementia, such as unmarried people", Sommerlad said.

It is speculated among the researchers that those who are elderly and have never married, may have remained single due to certain cognitive traits, like rigid thinking or ineffective communication, which might also put them at higher risk for dementia. Smokers and those with high blood pressure are about 60 percent more likely to develop dementia than people who don't have either of these problems. However, there wasn't any difference between those who were still married and those who had got a divorce. Few were divorced (between 4 and 6 percent in most of the studies), and few were lifelong singles (less than 10 percent in most studies). But understanding why marriage is associated with better cognitive health could lead to the development of "social interventions" that would be available to everyone, the authors concluded. "Although potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia exist, that does not mean that dementia is easily preventable".

And loneliness doesn't just increase your risk of dementia, it can make the condition harder to cope with for those diagnosed with it. Dr Doug Brown, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, told BBC News that loneliness is a big issue amongst sufferers of dementia.



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