Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH/FHI) have concluded that lifelong marriage reduces the risk of dementia in old age
The results of the study, which has been published in the ‘Journal of Aging and Health‘, observed different couples and people of different marital status for 24 years, from 44 to 68 years of age, investigating whether that marital status was related to a diagnosis dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at age 70.
In those 24 years they found that the group that was married during all that time had the lowest incidence of dementia, while single or divorced people were those with the highest risk.
“This survey suggests that being married and lower risk of dementia are linked , but we don’t know why. One theory has been that people who are married live healthier lives and that this explains differences in risk for various diseases. In In this survey, we found no support for differences in health between married and single people that would explain the difference in dementia risk,” said a researcher.
At the same time, the study has shown that having children reduces the risk of dementia by up to 60 percent, compared to people who do not. “Some people have theorized that if you have children, you stay more cognitively engaged. For example, you have to deal with people and participate in activities that you wouldn’t otherwise have to do. This stimulates your brain to possibly work better. That way you build a kind of cognitive reserve,” they stressed.
Researchers are now taking a closer look at the importance of having children for dementia risk, the types of jobs people hold, and how retirement age may affect risk.
Dementia affects an estimated 47 million people worldwide. This number is projected to increase to 75 million by 2030 and 132 million by 2050.