Loneliness tied to a higher risk of dementia

Loneliness tied to a higher risk of dementia
Recent research into older adults confirms that loneliness is tied to a raised risk of developing dementia. The study also reveals that the effect ranges across a diversity of people and is independent of how much social contact they have.
Scientists from Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee used data on 12,030 individuals from the Health and Retirement Study, a United States government-sponsored longitudinal survey of a nationally representative sample of people aged 50 and older.

They report their findings in a paper that now features in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B.

"We are not the first people," says first study author Dr. Angelina Sutin, who is an associate professor in FSU's College of Medicine, "to show that loneliness is associated with increased risk of dementia."

"But this is by far the largest sample yet, with a long follow-up," she adds. "And the population was more diverse."

The study data contained measures of loneliness and social isolation and a range of risk factors, including behavioral, clinical, and genetic.

Through telephone interviews, individuals had also completed assessments of cognitive ability, a low score on which indicates dementia. They did this at the start of the study and then every 2 years for up to 10 years, during which 1,104 people developed dementia.

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