Single People Twice as Likely to Develop Dementia

Single People Twice as Likely to Develop DementiaSingle People Twice as Likely to Develop Dementia

Being single could impact our mental health and increase the risk of dementia, a new study has found.

Being single is bad enough but now they have been told that not being married can severely impact their chances of severe cognitive decline.

The extensive research, which studied 2.2 million people, revealed divorced individuals may be twice as likely to develop early-onset dementia and 40% more at risk from late-onset dementia, compared to those who had walked down the aisle, reports

This study goes one better than previous research which also found a similar link, with scientists differentiating between divorce, being widowed and eternal singledom.

The study of individuals aged 50 to 74, focused on Swedish residents thanks to the country’s meticulous medical records.

All individuals were living without dementia when the study commenced in 1997. Over 10 years, 32,000 had been diagnosed with the problem.

Scientists found that even though the threat of dementia was low overall, each non-married subcategory was associated with a significantly higher risk of dementia than the married group.

The highest risk was observed among unmarried individuals. Divorcees were most at risk, followed by people who stayed single or were widowed.

There was no differentiation between genders, according to the findings, published in BMJ Open.

The study authors said: “Our results suggest those living alone as non-married people may be at risk for early-onset and late-onset dementia.

“A person who lives with someone may be less lonely and receive more social support, which is found to reduce psychological distress, including anxiety and depression.

“Individuals with more social support also have access to better resources for coping with stressors and are less prone to assess stressors as threatening.”

The team recommended that social relationships should be taken seriously as a risk factor for cognitive decline, and that social-based interventions may provide an opportunity to reduce the overall dementia risk.

It is estimated that 850,000 people live with dementia in the UK and 1 million people will be living with the condition by 2025. Dementia mainly affects older people, although there is a growing awareness of cases that start before the age of 65.

There are over 9.9 million new cases of dementia each year worldwide, implying one new case every 3.2 seconds. An estimated 46.8 million people worldwide in 2015 were living with the condition. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 74.7 million in 2030.