Loneliness, but not social isolation, predicts development of dementia in older people

Older people who feel lonely and have few close relationships may have an increased chance of developing dementia. Perhaps surprisingly, being socially isolated with few or infrequent social contacts does not seem to predict dementia risk, researchers found.

This study was carried out before the coronavirus pandemic but the findings are relevant now, when the over-70s are socially isolated. It suggests that those who have supportive social relationships with relatives and carers may be protected from cognitive decline. The quality of their relationships seems to be more important than how often they meet up in person.

People who have social contact may still feel lonely. The study stresses the importance of supportive relationships for people with early stage dementia.

Full detail at National Institute for Health Research