Perhaps a rather timely piece of research given the same-sex marriage bill has today passed the Senate – a study has found people who are married have a lower change of developing dementia.
Researchers from University College London looked at 15 existing studies involving more than 800,000 people from Asia, Europe, North and South America, and found “compelling” data which demonstrated “married people generally live longer and enjoy better health”.
Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said there were “many different factors likely to be contributing to that link”.
“People who are married tend to be financially better off, a factor that is closely interwoven with many aspects of our health,” she said.
“Spouses may help to encourage healthy habits, look out for their partner’s health and provide important social support.
“Research suggests that social interaction can help to build cognitive reserve – a mental resilience that allows people to function for longer with a disease like Alzheimer’s before showing symptoms.”
While Dr Phipps said people who were unmarried or widowed may have less opportunities for social interaction as they age, she said this wasn’t always the case.
“This research points to differences in levels of physical activity and education underlying much of the differences in dementia risk between single, married and widowed people,” she said.
“Staying physically, mentally, and socially active are all important aspects of a healthy lifestyle and these are things everyone, regardless of their marital status, can work towards.
“It’s important to remember that this study is taking a population-level view, and age, genetic and lifestyle factors will all play a role in defining someone’s risk of dementia at an individual level.”