Journal scan

Dementia and marriage

Marriage is known to have a beneficial effect on dementia risk. More than two million people aged between 50 and 74 years were included in this study, and were followed for up to ten years. Findings support the association between marital status and dementia, showing similar effects for men and women once socioeconomic factors had been taken into account. There are several possible reasons for this association.

Risk of dementia is lower in people who are married

Picture credit: Alamy

It may be that a close relationship is the best form of cognitive stimulation so couples may have higher levels of cognitive reserve providing resilience against neuropathological damage. Couples may also be less lonely and receive more social support so reducing anxiety and depression. Marriage also tends to reduce unhealthy behaviours and increase income levels. Alternatively, it may be that healthy people are more likely to get and stay married.

Further studies are needed to understand the mechanism by which marriage has a protective role regarding dementia. Until then, social-based interventions targeting people living alone may delay or even reduce the risk of dementia.

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