Socially Isolated Older Adults Face Greater Risk of Dementia

According to a recently published study, socially isolated older adults are facing at least 28 percent higher risk of developing dementia than their more social peers, The Hill reports.

After examining health data on over 5,000 older American adults with a mean age of 76, 1,172 of whom were socially isolated, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found a connection between dementia and social isolation among older adults.

The study, based on data from mostly non-Hispanic white women with more than a college education, showed that, compared to their socialized peers, socially isolated adults had an almost 28% greater chance of developing dementia over nine years. 

Although aiming to find out the connection between social isolation and dementia and whether race and ethnicity contributed in some way to the relationship between the two, researchers did not observe a significant difference in social isolation and the incidence rate of dementia among older adults of different races and ethnicities. 

The study authors noted that future research on social isolation and dementia should also investigate screening for social isolation as means of reducing the risk of dementia in older adults as well as racial and ethnic disparities.

They published the findings of their analysis, the latest addition to the growing body of research connecting social isolation among older people and negative health outcomes, in the Journal of American Geriatric Society.

According to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, more than one out of every adult 65 and older is considered to be socially isolated, which demonstrates that lack of social interaction is, unfortunately, common among older adults.

Another recent study – published in the Journal of the American Heart Association – found that social isolation and loneliness led to a 30% increase in chances of heart attack or stroke among older adults. 

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