JUN 11, 2022 4:00 PM PDT

Social Isolation is an Independent Risk Factor for Dementia

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Socially isolated people are 26% more likely than individuals with more active social connections to develop dementia later in life. The corresponding study was published in Neurology

Professor Edmund Rolls, a neuroscientist from the University of Warwick Department of Computer Science, and one of the study's authors, said: "There is a difference between social isolation, which is an objective state of low social connections, and loneliness, which is subjectively perceived social isolation.

"Both have risks to health but, using the extensive multi-modal data set from the UK Biobank, and working in a multidisciplinary way linking computational sciences and neuroscience, we have been able to show that it is social isolation, rather than the feeling of loneliness, which is an independent risk factor for later dementia. This means it can be used as a predictor or biomarker for dementia in the UK," he continued. 

For the study, the researchers analyzed health records from the UK Biobank involving neuroimaging data alongside demographic, lifestyle, and mental health information from over 30,000 people in the UK. 

After adjusting for risk factors, including socioeconomic status, chronic illness, and depression, the researchers found that socially-isolated individuals tend to have a 26% higher likelihood of developing dementia than non-socially-isolated individuals. 

They also found that loneliness was linked to later dementia, however, 75% of this association could be accounted for by depression. This led the researchers to conclude that relative to subjective feelings of loneliness, social isolation is an independent risk factor for dementia later on in life. 

The researchers noted that given increasing rates of social isolation and loneliness in recent decades, environmental methods for reducing dementia rates in older adults are crucial. They recommend governments and communities take action to ensure that older individuals communicate and interact with others on a regular basis. 

 

Sources: Science Daily, Neurology

 

About the Author
University College London
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
MAY 20, 2022
Neuroscience
Suppressing Negative Memories Makes Them Fade Away
MAY 20, 2022
Suppressing Negative Memories Makes Them Fade Away
Actively suppressing negative experiences may help prevent intrusive thoughts and rumination. The corresponding study wa ...
JUN 04, 2022
Neuroscience
Team Sport Participation Beneficial for Youth Mental Health
JUN 04, 2022
Team Sport Participation Beneficial for Youth Mental Health
Participation in team sports during adolescence and childhood is linked to fewer mental health difficulties. The corresp ...
JUN 23, 2022
Neuroscience
Drumming Positively Impacts the Functioning of Youth with Autism
JUN 23, 2022
Drumming Positively Impacts the Functioning of Youth with Autism
A study published in Neuroscience explored the effects of drumming on the behavior and brain functioning of autistic tee ...
JUN 23, 2022
Neuroscience
No Link Between Grit and Cognitive Ability
JUN 23, 2022
No Link Between Grit and Cognitive Ability
While people with more ‘grit’ may have more self-control, they may not have greater cognitive ability. The c ...
JUL 12, 2022
Neuroscience
Spirituality Improves Patient Care and Health Outcomes
JUL 12, 2022
Spirituality Improves Patient Care and Health Outcomes
Studies show that spiritual community participation is linked to healthier lives, greater longevity, and less depression ...
JUL 20, 2022
Neuroscience
Stress Transmitter Wakes Up the Sleeping Brain Over 100 Times Per Night
JUL 20, 2022
Stress Transmitter Wakes Up the Sleeping Brain Over 100 Times Per Night
A study published in Nature Neuroscience reported that the stress hormone and transmitter noradrenaline wakes up the hum ...
Loading Comments...