Can your marriage save you from dementia?

Lifelong singles and widowers seem to be at heightened risk of dementia.

Can marriage save you from dementia?

According to the latest review of the evidence, married folk have a much lower risk of developing dementia than lifelong singles.

Lifelong singles and widowers are at heightened risk of developing the disease, the findings indicate, although single status may no longer be quite the health hazard it once seemed to be, the researchers acknowledge.

The researchers revisited 15 studies investigating dementia and marital status. The investigation included more than 800,000 participants from Asia, North and South America, and Europe.

Married people accounted for between 28 and 80 per cent of people in the included studies; the widowed made up between around 8 and 48 per cent; the divorced between 0 and 16 per cent; and lifelong singletons between 0 and 32.5 per cent.

The researchers found that people who remained single throughout their life were 42 per cent more likely to develop dementia, after taking account of age and sex.

Part of this risk might be explained by poorer physical health among lifelong single people, the researchers suggest.

However, the most recent studies, which included people born after 1927, indicated a risk of 24 per cent, which suggests that this may have lessened over time, although it is not clear why, say the researchers.

The widowed were 20 per cent more likely to develop dementia than married people, although the strength of this association was somewhat weakened when educational attainment was factored in. Bereavement is likely to boost stress levels, which have been associated with impaired nerve signalling and cognitive abilities, the researchers note.

No such associations were found for those who had divorced their partners, although this may partly be down to the smaller numbers of people of this status included in the studies, the researchers point out.

The lower risk of dementia among married people persisted even after more detailed analysis, which, the researchers suggest, reflects “the robustness of the findings”.

“Marriage may help both partners to have healthier lifestyles, including exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and smoking and drinking less, all of which have been associated with lower risk of dementia,” the researchers explain.

“Couples may also have more opportunities for social engagement than single people – a factor that has been linked to better health and lower dementia risk,” they suggest.

Read the full study.

Why do you think married people seem to have a lower risk of dementia?

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    COMMENTS

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    Pushkin2
    5th Dec 2017
    10:39am
    So, it's not marriage per se that is the panacea but having a partner and being a couple that reduces the risks. Big, big difference.

    5th Dec 2017
    11:30am
    I would have thought that the stresses of marriage were more likely to bring on dementia - particularly since over 60% of them are bad and end in divorce.

    Also, as I single, I have to do everything for myself, which perforce keeps my brain active.

    5th Dec 2017
    12:28pm
    Maybe - but Demetria is preferable to a lifetime of misery
    Tib
    5th Dec 2017
    3:34pm
    :)
    Old Geezer
    5th Dec 2017
    1:27pm
    No dementia for me as we enjoy life to it's fullest.
    Puglet
    5th Dec 2017
    1:44pm
    As usual we are getting half the story! Of course marriage doesn’t prevent dementia. What does slow its onset is active social life, communication and brain use - learning new skills that make the brain forge new pathways. Depression, inactivity, poor health, poor nutrition, and loneliness exacerbate the rapidity of dementia’s progress. Single, heterosexual men find ageing more difficult because they often haven’t forged strong community links. A couple of studies are looking at the benefit of Men’s sheds, volunteering, Uni 3rd Age etc on positive ageing and health. So far the findings are really positive. The social interaction found in men’s groups and making new friends is as important as learning skills. Women are more likely to have strong communication links but if for some reason they are stuck at home with nothing to do but watch TV their risk of rapid onset dementia is the same as the blokes. The research is clear - we need to keep active, exercise, use our brains and most importantly chat to people we like (which may or may not be a spouse)!
    Golden Oldie
    5th Dec 2017
    2:55pm
    Could be that the married women do not get old enough to get dementia before dying as a result of domestic violence. I've also read somewhere that married men live longer than single men, single women live longer than married women. What is the point? Mum outlasted Dad by 4 years after 60 years of married bliss.
    Tib
    5th Dec 2017
    5:39pm
    94 women die of domestic violence each year these are the numbers from 2016 from the ABS also 82 men also die of domestic violence.
    Persons aged 45 years and over accounted for the largest proportion (39%) of victims of FDV-related Homicide in 2016 (69 victims). Females comprised over half (53%) of all FDV-related Homicide victims (94 victims), whereas males accounted for the majority (63%) of total Homicide victims recorded in Australia over the same period.
    Around 700 women die of suicide and around 2500 men die of suicide. See if you can work out where the real problem is.
    Trust me you are very unlikely to die of domestic violence.
    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4510.0~2016~Main%20Features~Victims%20of%20Family%20and%20Domestic%20Violence%20Related%20Offences~6
    Tib
    5th Dec 2017
    5:50pm
    Look at the bright side you are very unlikely to die of domestic violence but there is a high probability that your male partner will wish he was dead.
    Tib
    5th Dec 2017
    3:40pm
    For men marriage may reduce the likelihood of dementia ( unlikely). But it does increase your chance of dying of alcohol poisoning or suicide. Dementia's looking pretty good isn't it.
    Rosret
    5th Dec 2017
    6:53pm
    Tib - really. You have wasted your life. You did choose your wife you know.
    Tib
    5th Dec 2017
    10:10pm
    Rosret yes me and the 50% who get financially and emotionally destroyed by women in divorce and out of the 50% that are left 30% live in their sheds that leaves 20% that may be a little happier than the rest , those are probably the heavy drinkers.
    Still men are walking away ( some are running) from marriage so there's some hope for the future.
    Katie
    5th Dec 2017
    4:48pm
    So where's the piece of jewellery that can save us from dementia?
    Tib
    5th Dec 2017
    5:15pm
    It's the gold ring through a mans nose.
    Rosret
    5th Dec 2017
    6:56pm
    The wedding ring. - or ball and chain for the poor men on this site who have no idea why they married. So that sort of says they probably have may dementia already.
    Tib
    5th Dec 2017
    10:15pm
    Rosret I was going to blame a limited amount blood for the brain. Like most men hormones are what got us into trouble and our fathers didn't tell us the truth, but not to worry the next generation is being told the truth.
    Rosret
    5th Dec 2017
    6:49pm
    Well all the people I know with dementia were happily married. Odd stats as one person will always be left at the end of their life span which makes them single and older than the person they have buried.
    Katie
    5th Dec 2017
    6:52pm
    LOL Tib!! (:
    Cheezil61
    5th Dec 2017
    7:56pm
    Disagree.. much happier solo; marriage/relationships definitely not worth the bloody hassle! Had 2 broken marriages (7yrs & 9yrs) & about 5 or 6 relationships that were over one year in length (one was 6yrs). Men unfaithful being largely the problem (& no I am not a bitch to live with, in fact was pretty easy going & not a martyr but maybe I should've been to have more success?)
    Funny face
    5th Dec 2017
    9:17pm
    I would give anything I had to have my husband back, so don't knock marriage. I know k'd some great ones. Maybe it's the era we grew up in. We didn't have to have ' everything' straight away. We waited, we saved. These days they have to start with it all and if it doesn't happen, problems start. They expect to be made ' happy' and to ' have it all. And I'm talking about the women and girls these days. I'm sorry, vut their expectations ( along with a huge wedding!) ) it's the wedding, mkt the marriage they think about. Life does t ha d you things, you can't have everything. Sorry, my view only. I was happy. We were happy. And the jewellery, my husbands wedding ring worn around my neck!
    Funny face
    5th Dec 2017
    9:17pm
    I would give anything I had to have my husband back, so don't knock marriage. I know k'd some great ones. Maybe it's the era we grew up in. We didn't have to have ' everything' straight away. We waited, we saved. These days they have to start with it all and if it doesn't happen, problems start. They expect to be made ' happy' and to ' have it all. And I'm talking about the women and girls these days. I'm sorry, vut their expectations ( along with a huge wedding!) ) it's the wedding, mkt the marriage they think about. Life does t ha d you things, you can't have everything. Sorry, my view only. I was happy. We were happy. And the jewellery, my husbands wedding ring worn around my neck!
    Tib
    5th Dec 2017
    10:25pm
    I like you funny face. Sounds like your husband was lucky to have you. Cherish your memories. Most women these days are only interested in money.


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