Social Isolation, Loneliness Linked to Increased Dementia Risk in Later Life
What: Researchers from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing looked prospectively at the link between reported social engagement and dementia risk. Approximately 6,600 participants without a diagnosis of memory impairment were followed over 6 years. Analyses after that time period found that those who developed dementia (220 persons) were significantly more likely to report loneliness and less likely to have close relationships or be married.
Why This Matters: Often we assume that changes in later life have little impact on dementia risk. However, this study along with other recent findings, such as the Lancet Commission study, show how very much social engagement matters to brain fitness, no matter what our age.
The Takeaway: This study adds to the mounting evidence for why we should look for ways to promote meaningful social connection in our communities, as well as for ourselves. Programs that actively engage with purpose, be it travel, peer mentoring, volunteering or social-based brain training, offer “build in” opportunities to connect around common interests or concerns.
Find all science articles discussed in our TBH Science Updates online in our new PubMed public folder “2017 TBH Science Updates.” Click HERE to go to the folder – be sure to bookmark it!