Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are caused by medical conditions. Age, gender, and other demographic factors also have an impact. Further, these diseases can be due to genes, mild cognitive impairment, and depression. This study assesses the role of social isolation and feelings in enhancing the risk of dementia.

The cohort study involved 2173 old, non-dementia participants of a commune. Living alone, lack of social support, loneliness feelings, and unmarried status were major parameters. The participants, after 3 years of following, had a diagnostic assessment of dementia. Geriatric Mental State (GMS), logistic regression analysis, and AGECAT got applied. Cognitive functioning, depression, medical condition, and sociodemographics were the control factors.

Older persons with loneliness feelings were more susceptible to dementia. Their OR was 1.64 with a confidence interval of 95% in the 1.05 to 2.06 range. People without such feelings are less vulnerable, after adjustments for risk factors. The multivariate analysis did not associate social isolation with a higher risk of dementia.

Feelings of loneliness are detrimental to dementia rather than social isolation. This major risk factor is independent of depression, vascular disease, and other confounders. It deserves clinical attention as a signaler of dementia’s prodromal stage. The participants’ background for such feelings needs better understanding. The vulnerable have to be identified and treated to reduce the risk.

Ref: https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/85/2/135