According to a study published in the Journal of Neurology & Psychiatry, marriage is the best way of keeping dementia at bay.
The paper combined data from 15 studies including more than 800 thousand people from around the world who were either divorced, widowed or never married. Researchers from the University College of London found that people who never married were 42 percent more likely to develop dementia when compared to married people. Those who lost a spouse were 20 percent more likely of contracting the disease.
Previous research has revealed that married people tend to be healthier and more socially engaged than single people. This, in turn, was said to improve one’s „cognitive reserve”.
„This means their brain has strategies that allow them to withstand the damage without showing symptoms of dementia,” said Andrew Sommerlad, lead author of the study and a geriatric psychiatrist and Wellcome Trust Research Fellow.
The British researchers believe that widowed people have a higher risk of dementia than divorced people, due to the stress that comes with bereavement. That stress could be powerful enough to affect memory-forming and cognitive areas of the brain, according to the study.
While there were differences between the three groups, preventing dementia is a lot more complex than putting a ring on a finger. The authors did reveal a link between marriage and dementia, however, they don’t know what exactly causes married people to remain healthier.
Another issue with the research, according to the researchers, is the different personality traits in each individual.
„It may be that their dementia risk plays a part whether they find a partner many years earlier,” states Sommerlad.
Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK believes that married people generally live longer and are healthier due, in part, to a change in financial status. According to her, financial stability „is closely interwoven with many aspects of our health.”
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