How important are social connections when it comes to developing dementia? Elizabeth Tracey reports


As you age it’s important to tend your relationships, since becoming socially isolated impacts health, including your risk to develop dementia. That’s according to research by Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrics expert at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues.

Cudjoe: Social connections really matter. They matter for people across the life course. In the absence of social connections we see that people have higher levels of morbidity and mortality that rival those of smoking cigarettes. We leveraged data from the National Health and Aging study, this is a nationally representative dataset. We included almost 6000 older adults. Essentially we looked over time to see if these individuals developed dementia and we see that individuals who are socially isolated had higher risk for dementia than individuals who were not socially isolated.   :31

People in this study who were socially isolated had a 27% higher risk to develop dementia compared to those who weren’t socially isolated, Cudjoe says. So keeping relationships robust and participating in activities is important. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.