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Alzheimer’s and Marriage

-Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC

Scientists have long known that maintaining and developing new social relationships can help decrease the risk of dementia. However, a new study found that relationships during one’s midlife can have an effect on Alzheimer’s.

The new study followed 2000 men and women from Finland from age 50 and tracked them for 21 years.  The researchers found that the subjects who were living with a partner or spouse during their midlife actually had a 50 percent lower chance of developing dementia than those who lived alone. The scientists also found an interesting correlation between the amount of time someone lived alone and their risk for developing dementia. The study showed that those who lived alone their entire adult life ran twice the risk of developing the disease while those who had married and then divorced and remained single had three times the risk of developing dementia.

Individuals who had lost their partner before midlife and then continued to live as a widow or widower were six times as likely to develop dementia.  This study is extremely important as most research has focused on Alzheimer’s and its relation to the elderly.  But, more and more studies are showing that Alzheimer’s can be affected earlier in life as well.

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