According to studies in the Journal of Ageing and Health, people that stay married to one person for a significant part of their lives have a lower risk of developing dementia in old age. Vegard Skirbekk, Ph.D., a leading author at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, stated in a press release that being married impacts the brain and can further influence the risk factors for dementia.
He further noted that persons who continuously stayed married had the lowest chances of developing dementia. On the other hand, single or divorced persons showed the likelihood of developing mild cognitive impairment or even dementia. To fully explore the impact of a person’s marital status on the brain, experts did a study based on data collected from 8,706 people enrolled in the HUNT Study. The latter is an extensive population-based health survey in Norway that is currently ongoing.
In the above study, the experts examined people’s marital status over 24 years. These participants were between 44 to 68. The experts carried out the study because they wanted concrete evidence on whether there was a relationship between a clinically diagnosed dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) after the age of 70.
The Alzheimer’s Association has defined dementia as a severe impairment to memory, language, and other brain functions that hamper your daily activities. MCI, on the other hand, is often seen as a milder symptom that may ultimately lead to dementia. However, this may not be the case for every patient.
Findings Of The HUNT Study
After more than two decades, 11.6 participants were diagnosed with dementia, while 35.3 percent were diagnosed with MCI. These participants were divided into several categories, including the following:
- Unmarried participants;
- Participants that were continuously married;
- Those that were continuously divorced (i.e., those that didn’t marry at all throughout the entire 24-year period of the study);
- Those that were intermittently divorced (in other words, they were divorced and remarried throughout the research);
- Those that were intermittently married (married and divorced more than once); and
- Widowed participants.
The essential findings of the study included the following:
- That dementia was more prevalent among the unmarried (14.1%) than among continuously married participants (11.2%).
- That there was a high risk of dementia for unmarried participants, continuously divorced, and intermittently divorced participants.
- Finally, the risk of MCI was only higher among unmarried people.