More evidence is surfacing that shows a link between loneliness and cognitive decline that could lead to Alzheimer’s disease. It isn’t exactly social isolation that is connected to cognitive decline, but rather the actual emotion of feeling lonely. In other words, if an adult feels left out, even though they are surrounded by other people, they are still at a greater risk for developing dementia. The study, “Association of Higher Cortical Amyloid Burden with Loneliness in Cognitively Normal Older Adults” was published online in JAMA Psychiatry.
HERE ARE THEIR FINDINGS:
- 79 cognitively normal people participated in the Harvard Aging Brain Study.
- 28% of participants tested positive for the genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease
- 32% had cortical amyloid burden
- A four point scale was used to evaluate loneliness through self-reporting.
- The Self-Evaluation included the following:
- How often do you feel you lack companionship?
- How often do you feel left out?
- How often do you feel isolated from others?
- Participants with a higher amyloid burden were 7.5 times more likely to be classified as lonely compared to those without that amyloid burden. (Adjustments were made for age, sex, genetic Alzheimer’s carrier status, socioeconomic status, depression, anxiety, and social networks).
- Participant’s with the genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s had an even stronger correlation between a high amyloid burden and loneliness.
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