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Marriage Protects Aging Couples from Dementia

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Married people are less likely to develop dementia as they age, a new study has revealed.

Dementia refers to a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life, memory loss is an example.

However, divorcees, are twice as likely as married people to develop the condition, with divorced men exhibiting greater disadvantage that the female counterparts.

The study conducted at Michigan State University examined four groups of unmarried individuals: divorced or separated, widowed, never married and cohabiters.

The research published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B discovered that divorced participants showed the highest risk of dementia.

In the study, the researchers analyzed nationally representative data from the Health and Retirement Study, from 2000 to 2014. The sample included more than 15,000 respondents ages 52 and older in 2000, measuring their cognitive function every two years, in person or via telephone.

According to the lead researcher, Hui Liu professor of sociology at the university, marital status is an important aspect of life but is usually overlooked as a protective factor for dementia.

“The research s important because the number of unmarried older adults in the modern age continues to grow, as people live longer and their marital histories become more complex,” noted Liu.

Further, the study showed that differing economic resources only partly accounted for higher dementia risk among divorced, widowed and never-married respondents. 

In addition, health-related factors, such as behaviors and chronic conditions, slightly influenced risk among the divorced and married.

“These findings will be helpful for health policymakers and practitioners who seek to better identify vulnerable populations and to design effective intervention strategies to reduce dementia risk,” added Liu.

Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. The damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. When brain cells cannot communicate normally, thinking, behavior and feelings can be affected.

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Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde is reporter with Business Today. Email: [email protected]
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