An analysis gathered health data from 15 studies with 812,047 participants from the United States, Europe, South America and Asia conducted by psychiatrist Andrew Sommerlad of University College London suggests that staying single for life carries significant cognitive consequences, as a greater risk of developing dementia.
Specifically, the study indicates that lifelong singles were 42% more likely to develop dementia in general than married people, after taking into account factors such as age and gender. Widowers also had a higher risk: 20%. Interestingly, divorcees did not show a greater association with dementia.
This correlation can occur because the marriage life imposes a significantly different lifestyle, as Sommerland points out:
Married people tend to have healthier lifestyles and are more socially engaged, which may explain why they are less likely to develop dementia.
And is that greater social interaction and not social isolation or loneliness carry a lower risk of dementia and people who are married tend to be in a better economic situation.
We hope our findings can be applied to support the prevention of dementia among single people, since maintaining physical health and ensuring mental stimulation through social engagement among unmarried older people can be beneficial.