British scientists have found that people who are single in old age or widowed are 40 percent more likely to develop dementia than married people according to a report on Daily Mail.
According to experts, married people are less likely to get dementia than singletons because they generally tend to be more socially active, have more frequent conversations, eat more healthily and exercise more than people who are single or widowed.
“It’s not the process of getting married or having a ring on your finger that protects you against the development of dementia,” lead researcher Dr Andrew Sommerlad, of University College London, said as quoted on Daily Mail.
“But I think what this study tells us is about the lifestyle factors that might affect someone’s risk of developing dementia.”
To arrive at this conclusion, researchers from University College London analyzed 14 studies which contained data on more than 800,000 people aged over 65.
The researchers found that single people were at 42 per cent higher risk of developing dementia compared to married people, while widows or widowers were at a 20 per cent higher risk.
Dr Sommerlad added that the social aspects of being married could help protect the brain.
“I think it is likely to be explained by the fact married people have more lifetime interaction with other people. That is stimulating to your brain and it gives you more strategies to be able to cope with the damage to your brain that dementia causes – what’s known as cognitive reserve,” Dr SOmmerlad added.
Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK also added that various researches have shown that married people generally live longer and enjoy better health.
“There is compelling research showing married people generally live longer and enjoy better health, with many different factors likely to be contributing to that link,” Dr Phipps said as quoted on Daily Mail.
“People who are married tend to be financially better off, a factor that is closely interwoven with many aspects of our health. Spouses may help to encourage healthy habits, look out for their partner’s health and provide social support.
“Staying physically, mentally and socially active are all important aspects of a healthy lifestyle and these are things everyone, regardless of their marital status, can work towards.”