London, July 3 (ANI): People who live alone in middle age face nearly double the risk of developing dementia in later life compared with married or cohabiting counterparts, according to a new study.
The study suggested that having a partner offers protection against mental decline in later life.
Researchers also found that people who live alone in middle age and are widowed or divorced have the highest chances of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
They are three times more likely to develop dementia, as are people who are single at middle-aged but also when they are older.
For the study, researchers studied 1,449 people aged 50 on average and then again when they were between the ages of 65 and 79.
They found that people living with a partner or married in mid-life were less likely than all other categories (single, separated or widowed) to have dementia in later life.
Researchers found that women overall had less chance of dementia than men, but called for more research on differences between the sexes.
"Living in a relationship with a partner might imply cognitive and social challenges that have a protective effect against cognitive impairment later in life," the Daily Express quoted lead author Miia Kivipelto from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, as saying.
"There is a substantial and independent association between marital status in mid-life and cognitive function later in life. People without a partner had twice the risk of developing cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease compared with people living with a partner.
"The risk for cognitive impairment was even higher for those without a partner both at mid-life and later life," Kivipelto added.
The study has been published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). (ANI)