If social stimulation protects people against dementia, as studies indicate, it is not surprising that new research from Scandinavia shows the mental benefits of marriage. Using data from Finland, Swedish researchers found that people living alone at midlife on were almost three times as likely to develop some level of cognitive impairment as those who were married or cohabiting, regardless of their living status later in life. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s, however, was not significant.

“This study points to the beneficial effects of a married life,” said Krister Hakansson of Vaxjo University and the Karolinska Institute. While any form of social interaction may be beneficial, he reasoned that a partner relationship would provide the most intense form of interaction. Widowed participants at midlife who did not remarry had the highest increased risk of any mental decline. However, genetic predisposition also played a part in the risk of Alzheimer’s. The findings are preliminary and have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. ~ Medpage Today, July 30


Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet