Summary: Longer periods of loneliness are linked to faster memory decline in those over 65.
A source: University of Michigan
According to a new study led by researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, prolonged loneliness in adults over age 65 may be an important factor in the rapid aging of memory.
“We found that long-term loneliness is associated with faster memory decline, suggesting that it’s never too late to work on reducing loneliness later in life,” said Lindsay Kobayashi, assistant professor of epidemiology. and senior author of the study published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Kobayashi and colleagues analyzed interview data from more than 9,000 adults age 50 and older from the US Health and Retirement Survey from 1996 to 2016. They assessed participants’ cumulative duration of loneliness from 1996 to 2004 in relation to memory performance 12 years later. From 2004 to 2016.
Xuexin Yu, Ph.D., an epidemiologist and the study’s lead author, said the link between loneliness and memory aging is stronger in people over the age of 65, with women experiencing stronger and faster memory decline than men.
“Women tend to have larger social networks than men, which may make women less likely to feel lonely than men, but may be more vulnerable to experiencing long-term loneliness,” Yu said. “Social stigma and reluctance to admit loneliness may also be factors in this observed gender association.”
Loneliness and objective social isolation are important factors in the health of older adults, and researchers say that reducing loneliness in mid- and late life may help preserve memory function longer.
In addition to Yu and Kobayashi, Ashley Westrick, a postdoctoral fellow in the UM Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, co-authored the study.
This is about aging and loneliness research news
Author: Press service
A source: University of Michigan
The connection: Press Office – University of Michigan
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Original research: Open access.
“Cumulative loneliness and subsequent decline in memory function among adults aged ≥50 years in the United States, 1996-2016” Xuexin Yu et al. Alzheimer’s and dementia
Cumulative loneliness and subsequent decline in memory function among adults aged ≥50 years in the United States, 1996–2016
The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between loneliness and memory function over a 20-year period.
Data were obtained from 9032 adults aged ≥50 years in the Health and Retirement Study. Loneliness status (yes vs. yes) was assessed biennially from 1996 to 2004, and its duration was categorized as never, 1 time point, 2 time points, and ≥3 time points. Episodic memory was assessed as a composite of immediate and delayed recall combined with proxy-reported memory across trials from 2004 to 2016. Mixed effects linear regression models were fitted.
Longer periods of loneliness are associated with memory decline (P < 0.001) and the rate of decline (P < 0.001). The association was stronger among adults aged ≥65 years than among those aged <65 years (three-way interaction P = 0.013) and was stronger among women than men (three-way interaction P = 0.002).
Cumulative loneliness may be a major risk factor for accelerated memory aging, especially among women aged ≥65 years.
- Longer periods of loneliness have been linked to accelerated memory aging.
- The association was stronger among women than among men, and among older adults than among young adults.
- Reducing loneliness in mid- and late life can help preserve memory function.