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VU University study suggests link between loneliness and dementia

By Krista Alice Hornyak,

A recent study by the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam suggests loneliness leads to dementia.

The study was published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry and revealed that people who felt lonely, even when surrounded by loved ones, were more likely to develop dementia than those who simply lived by themselves.

Participants, ages 65 to 86, were initially selected because they did not show signs of dementia and were not living in homes for the elderly. They were visited twice over a period of three years to track how their emotions and memory had changed.

According toTime.com, after taking factors like age into consideration, the study found that the participants’ lonely feelings had raised their risk of dementia by 64%. This was increasingly common in women.

Experts say this may be due to lonely people having less positive interactions with others, lessening their cognitive and sensory stimulation.

According to WebMD, other dementia risk factors include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, stroke, head injury, and excessive alcohol or drug abuse.

 

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