A research team from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has added to their already excellent work on factors associated with dementia. And this time instead of correlating potential risk variables with Alzheimer’s in a sample of people, they have a longitudinal study which followed people over time. They found that people who felt lonely were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those that didn’t. This is a major variable and has effects that are independent from what was happening in the brain and from the individual’s social networks.
The take home message is that our connections with caring friends and family members help keep us healthy. We all need to value and nourish our relationships. If friends have fallen away through time and circumstances, we should take the time to make new ones. If we don’t have family or if there is an estrangement that can’t be repaired, our friends can be our family.