Better quality relationships associated with reduced dementia risk

Positive social support from adult children is associated with reduced risk of developing dementia, according to new research. Conversely, negative social support is linked with increased risk, according to the 10-year follow-up study.

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This study was based on data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA)

Researchers analysed a decade of data that followed 10,055 core participants from ELSA who were dementia-free at the start of the study in 2002-2003. Participants were interviewed every two years during 2004-2012 and incidence of dementia was identified from self-reports by participants or information given by nominated informants.

Measures of positive and negative experiences of social support were calculated at baseline. The scale ranged from 1-4 with higher values indicating more of positive or negative support. An increase of one point in the positive social support score led to up to a 17 per cent reduction in the instantaneous risk of developing dementia, the findings showed. Positive support was characterised by having a reliable, approachable and understanding relationship with spouses or partners, children and other immediate family.

Negative support scores showed stronger effects — an increase of one point in the negative support score led to up to 31 per cent rise in the risk. Negative support was characterised by experiences of critical, unreliable and annoying behaviours from spouses or partners, children and other immediate family.

Full reference: Mizanur Khondoker, et. al. Positive and Negative Experiences of Social Support and Risk of Dementia in Later Life: An Investigation Using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017; 58 (1): 99

 

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