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Dementia risk lowered by social support from adult children

Older people’s risk of developing dementia is reduced if they receive positive social support from their adult children, new research suggests.

Older people’s risk of developing dementia is reduced if they receive positive social support from their adult children, new research suggests

dementia
 New research highlights the value of focusing on social relationships for people with dementia
 Picture: iStock

The risk of developing dementia in older people is reduced if they receive positive social support from their adult children, new research suggests.

The study was carried out by a team of researchers from the University of East Anglia, University College London, London Metropolitan University and the University of Nottingham.

The research, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, was based on data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) conducted by academics at three of the universities.

Negative support

The researchers analysed a decade of data that followed 10,055 core participants from ELSA who were dementia-free at the start of the study in 2002-2003.

Participants were interviewed every two years until 2012 and incidence of dementia was identified from self-reports by participants or information given by nominated informants.

The research also shows that what it calls negative social support is associated with an increased risk of developing dementia.

Social relationships

University College London's Andrew Steptoe said: ‘Our findings add to the growing evidence of the relevance of social relationships for cognitive health in older age.

Professor Steptoe added: 'Specifically for health and social care practice, the research highlights the value of thinking about social relationship issues in individuals vulnerable to dementia, while pointing toward specific ways of potentially modifying risk. 

'Our results will add to the impetus underlying local and national efforts to help strengthen the social relationships of older people, many of whom are isolated and lonely.'


Khondoker M et al (2017) Positive and negative experiences of social support and risk of dementia in later life: An investigation using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. doi:10.3233/JAD-161160 

 

 

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