Cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, and smoking have already been identified as risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease. However, a large, study has uncovered a new risk factor: loneliness.
The study, published in The Journals of Gerontology, followed over 12,000 people aged 50 and over for ten years. Researchers found that after loneliness was associated with an increased Alzheimer’s risk of 40% over the course of ten years. The study controlled for other known risk factors, and their finding proved unrelated to gender, race, or education.
The study drew a distinction between “social isolation” and loneliness, defining social isolation as an objective measure of how much contact someone has with other people, while Loneliness is a feeling, and therefore, subjective.
The increased risk of Alzheimer’s associated with loneliness was found to be independent of whether person was actually socially isolated. The feeling of loneliness affected risk, not social isolation.
This important study reinforces our understanding that risk factors need to be assessed not only by objective standards, but also by subjective feelings.
The study provided some good news, as well. “Loneliness,” says lead author Dr. Angelina Sutin, “is a modifiable risk factor.” A caregiver can modify this risk factor for their loved one by ensuring that someone is looking out for them, paying attention to their emotional state, and making sure they remain healthy, emotionally as well as physically and socially.
At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our activities director and counselors ensure that each of our residents has a full and satisfying life. We take a restorative approach to elder care, maximizing our residents’ function and mobility in a positive and upbeat atmosphere.
We have created a unique environment and care program specifically designed to address the needs of our residents with Alzheimer’s. Our specialized Alzheimer’s Unit is situated in a separate, secure wing to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents. It offers a structured daily routine, mind-stimulating activities, excellent social interaction, with optimal patient independence in a calm and soothing atmosphere.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.