Married couples have a 60 per cent lower risk of going on to develop dementia, a study suggests.
Scientists found that single adults are most likely to be plagued by the devastating disease in their old age.
They believe the findings could be because caring partners encourage a healthier lifestyle – which slashes the risk of dementia.
While single men are more prone to heart disease and depression – well-known risk factors of dementia, Loughborough University researchers explained.
Scientists believe the findings could be because caring partners encourage a healthier lifestyle – which slashes the risk of dementia
Professor Eef Hogervorst said: ‘It might be because married men have healthier lifestyles – better diets, less alcohol, less smoking and earlier health services visits.
‘It could be that married couples will try to cope with dementia symptoms before health services are involved.’
The six-year investigation, published in the Journals of Gerontology, tracked 6,677 people to make the findings.
What else did the study find?
The results also showed that singletons were more likely to be depressed and suffer from heart disease – also risk factors for dementia.
Professor Hogervorst added: ‘We know depression and heart disease are risk factors for dementia.
TELL-TALE SIGNS OF DEMENTIA
People who make ‘microerrors’ while carrying out everyday tasks like making a cup of tea could be showing early signs of dementia, researchers said in September.
Small errors like checking several times whether the teabag is in the cup or going back to the fridge when the milk is already out are things that show the brain’s processing ability is fading.
Although most people process tasks more inefficiently as they age, experts said families should be aware that making lots of little mistakes could be a sign someone is at a higher risk of developing dementia in the future.
‘And loneliness had a similar strength of association as the heart disease risk factors.
‘We are social creatures and reduction of stress through social support may be more important than previously thought.’
During the study, 220 went onto develop dementia. All of the adults involved were between the ages of 52 and 90.
Dementia: The facts
Dementia affects 47.5 million people across the world – of which Alzheimer’s is the most common form. There is no cure.
Charities estimate one in three people over 65 will develop dementia and numbers will grow as the population ages
However, experts warn the public shouldn’t see it as an ‘inevitable part of ageing’, as adopting a healthier lifestyle can slash the risk.
The dangers of loneliness
The new findings back-up a host of previous research which has uncovered a link between loneliness and dementia.
People who had high levels of a protein in their brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease were nearly eight times more likely to feel isolated, a study showed last November.
And loneliness has been worryingly linked with heart disease, cancer, obesity in recent years, and has been dubbed as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.