Image of senior woman with a mask looking wistfully out a door

(HealthDay News) — Cumulative loneliness may be a risk factor for accelerated memory decline in older adults, according to a study published online Aug. 3 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Xuexin Yu, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used data from 9,032 adults (aged 50 years and older) participating in the Health and Retirement Study. Associations between loneliness duration and memory function were examined from 2004 to 2016.

The researchers found that a longer duration of loneliness was associated with lower memory scores and a faster rate of decline. The association was stronger among those aged 65 years and older compared with those aged younger than 65 years. Additionally, the association was stronger among women than men.

“In this population-based cohort study of middle-aged and older adults in the United States, cumulative duration of loneliness in mid- to late-life may be a salient risk factor for accelerated memory aging, especially among women aged 65 and over. Reducing loneliness in mid- to late-life may help maintain memory function,” the authors write. “Further research from diverse populations to investigate underlying biological mechanisms is warranted.”

Abstract/Full Text

Related articles:

Loneliness can be deadly for people with serious health conditions: study

Study unveils ‘silent epidemic’ of loneliness among older women during pandemic