Social Isolation Can Make People More at Risk of Developing Dementia in Certain Communities

Social Isolation Can Make People More at Risk of Developing Dementia in Certain Communities

Perhaps not everybody knows that dementia is not a single disease but a term that describes a group of symptoms, including memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a stroke. An interesting fact about dementia is that it is the leading cause of death in England and Wales, surpassing even heart disease.

Two studies from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have added to evidence that social isolation is a serious risk factor for dementia in community-dwelling older adults, and have identified technology as an effective way to intervene, according to news-medical.netThe studies suggest that simple efforts to increase social support for older adults, such as texting and the use of email, may reduce the risk of dementia.

The studies found that the risk of developing dementia over nine years of analyzing was 27% higher among socially isolated older adults compared to those who were not socially isolated. The second study also found that the use of communications technology such as phone and email lowered the risk of social isolation.

Mfon Umoh, M.D., Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in geriatric medicine from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, stated:

Basic communications technology is a great tool to combat social isolation,

This study shows that access and use of simple technologies are important factors that protect older adults against social isolation, which is associated with significant health risks. This is encouraging because it means simple interventions may be meaningful.

Even previous research suggests that social isolation is a risk factor for dementia in older adults. However, none of the studies establishes a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two. It’s important to note that social isolation is only one of several risk factors for dementia, and many other factors may also contribute to the development of the condition.

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