Marriage May Protect Against Dementia
The mental stimulation that marriage provides may be enough to cause a certain amount of resistance to Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments according to a prospective population-based study. Krister Hakansson of Vaxjo University, Sweden, recently reported at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease that individuals who from midlife on live alone have almost three times more likelihood of developing some level of cognitive impairment. There were greater similar risks of Alzheimer’s disease (OR 2.83, P<0.05) and mild cognitive impairment (OR 3.17, P<0.001). According to Hakansson, "This study points to the beneficial effects of a married life… consistent with the general hypothesis of social stimulation as a protective factor against dementia." The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study's findings:
It has been suggested that remaining socially active may protect against the development of dementia, and Hakansson reasoned that a partner relationship would form the most intense form of social interaction because of the necessity of dealing with another’s needs or perspectives, enhanced communication, and joint problem-solving.
So he and colleagues turned to the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Dementia (CAIDE) study, which randomly selected middle-age participants from the general population of Finland. Baseline measurements were taken from 1972 to 1987.
In 1998, after a mean follow-up of 21 years, 1,432 of the participants ages 65 to 79 were evaluated for signs of cognitive impairment. At baseline, 1,147 were married or cohabitating, 111 were single, 63 were separated or divorced, and 111 were widowed.