By Lucy Gornall
Married? A new study has revealed that you may be reducing your risk of developing dementia, compared to those who are single.
And it's bad news for divorcees, who are about twice as likely as married people to develop dementia according to this new study.
The research was carried out by Michigan State University who reviewed data from over 15,000 people living in the United States over a time period of 14 years. These people were either married, widowed, divorced and separated, never married or cohabitors and were all 52 or older in the year 2000.
Professor Hui Liu, who led the Michigan State Uni study explains that ‘marital status is an important but overlooked social risk/protective factor for dementia’.
‘This research is important because the number of unmarried older adults in the United States continues to grow, as people live longer and their marital histories become more complex.’
The study measured the cognitive function of each participant, every two years either in person or via telephone.
Researchers found that health-related factors such as chronic conditions and behaviours only slightly influenced the risk among divorced and married, but not the other marital statuses.
They also discovered that varying economic resources was only a small contributor towards the higher dementia risk among divorced, widowed and never-married but didn’t play any part in the cohabitors’ higher risk.
The study also showed that divorced men were at a greater disadvantage than divorced women.
Professor Liu explained that ‘the findings will be helpful for health policy makers and practitioners who seek to better identify vulnerable populations and to design effective intervention strategies to reduce dementia risk’.
Currently in the UK there are 850,000 people suffering with dementia, according to Alzheimer’s Society, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This is predicted to rise even further to two million, by 2051.
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