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Study Says that Marriage is Linked to Reduced Risk of Dementia

Apparently, there are more advantages of getting married than to just spending the rest of your life in a normal relationship. A recent study shows that married people have a lower risk of developing dementia that their unmarried counterparts. But how hazardous is being single for your mental health?

Your marital status may just be as important for the risk of dementia as depression or social isolation

Does Your Mental Health Depends on Your Marital Status?

Analysts have recently discovered a link between a person’s marital status and their risk of developing mental illnesses such as dementia – and the results are quite surprising. The research which was first published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, concluded that unmarried people or those individuals whose spouses had passed away were at a greater risk of being diagnosed with dementia than those who were happily married.

The recent paper analyzed 15 studies that had been published in the past involving almost one million participants from all over the world, and the combined data from the researches all pointed towards similar conclusion: participants who had never been married were twice as likely to develop dementia later on in their lives in comparison to widows and widowers who had only 20% risk.

Married Couples Tend to Motivate Each Other to Stay Healthy

Studies show that married couple are healthier and happier because they motivate each other to exercise and eat mindfully

But why do married couples have a lower risk of developing dementia and other diseases? Experts say that marriage can have an effect on couples’ lifestyles as they tend to motivate each other to make better health choices such as eating mindfully, exercising and quitting other bad habits like drinking and smoking. So it isn’t the love or affection you get from your partner that positively impacts your mental health but other factors that indirectly reduce the risk of dementia. Researchers also found other benefits of being married such as reduced stress which positively impacts couples’ cognitive abilities.

On the other hand, widows and widowers face an increase in stress level due to the loss of their spouse which can cause damage to the nerves and cause cognitive impairment. The researchers argue that married couples tend to get more intimacy than unmarried individuals which is linked to improved cognitive functioning.

The Risk of Dementia in Single People Lower Than It Was Decades Ago

Risk on dementia in unmarried individuals isn’t as great as it used to be due changing social norms on marriage

One important trend that was noticed in the previous researches was that the risk of dementia decreased to 24% in the most recent studies in comparison to the earliest ones which had 40% risk. This finding suggests that being unmarried in today’s world may not be as dangerous to your cognitive abilities as it used to be decades ago. In the past, being unmarried was often associated with loneliness, poor communication skills and inability to think flexibly, all of which negatively affected people’s cognitive health.

The social norm of marriage is no longer applicable to today’s generation but, nevertheless, people are more adept at communication and flexible in their decision-making and thought process than ever before. But most importantly, physical intimacy is more common between unmarried couples leading to fewer unusual cognitive characteristics.

Improvements Could be Made

Divorced couples experienced no change in their risk of dementia, according to the researchers’ findings, which may have been due to the lack of representation of divorced participant in most studies. Experts also argue that the result does not show a cause-effect relationship between marital status and the risk of dementia; it is simply an observation of a link present between the two factors.

There were several other ways the studies could have been improved to give better understanding of the relationship between the factors. For example, observing the time period for which the participants were divorced or widowed could provide better insight on the association. However, since almost all of the studies from different geographical locations drew similar conclusion, it is impossible to deny the obvious link between marital status and dementia.

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