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How Marriage Might Help You Avoid Dementia

Jen Slack's picture
happy marriage

A new review in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry suggest that being married might decrease your chance of developing Dementia. This is an amazing link between marriage and dementia that needs further research and exploration.


The review combined the data from 15 studies that included more than 800,000 people from Europe, North and South America and Asia.

In the end, the single people who had never been married, had a 42 percent higher rate of dementia, compared to those who had never been married. Those who were widowed, were 20 percent higher than married people.

Obviously, though, being widowed is not a choice for people. Increased stress levels are a result of grieving the death of a spouse and can affect cognitive abilities, and therefore possibly lead to dementia.

Why Married People are Lower Risk for Dementia

It is speculated among the researchers that those who are elderly and have never married, may have remained single due to certain cognitive traits, like rigid thinking or ineffective communication, which might also put them at higher risk for dementia. This is particularly true of those who are elderly now, who grew up when it was not the social norm to be single, like it has been in more recent years.

“Remaining unmarried has become more common,” they write, “and it may be that single people born in the latter half of the 20th century have fewer unusual cognitive and personality characteristics.”

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Possibilities suggested from the research is that married couples quite likely motivate each other toward positive behavior, like eating well, exercising and maintaining relationships. As well, the partners may steer each other into avoiding harmful behaviors like smoking and drinking. All of these factors are, in fact, associated with a lower risk for dementia.

Sexual activity could play a part too, as married people generally have more sex than those who are single or widowed. Researchers from the National University of Singapore and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, demonstrated a relationship between sexual activity and better cognitive function, in an accompanying editorial.

Marriage Is Also Good For Blood Pressure

And while being married looks like it may lessen the risk for dementia, other research shows that being in a truly happy marriage, can also be good for the blood pressure of the marriage partners, even with age and stress accounted for.

Read here about how eating plant based foods may be another factor in decreasing the odds for dementia.

Besides known factors like poor diet and lack of exercise, perhaps this review reveals that marital status should also be a consideration in the risk assessment for dementia.

Let us know please if you know families where the spouses are advanced in age, happily married and with no dementia. If you have had experiences with this topic, please share your opinions in the comments section below for discussion. If you liked this article and think it may help your friends, consider sharing or tweeting it to your followers.



I am wondering if rise of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in these days is linked to the rise of divorce. Because more and more people get divorced. I am also wondering if egocentric, self-centered life isn't the reason of this.
Well my mum and dad have been married 56 years and mum still got it. And my mum is one of the least selfish people I've ever met. This theory makes me upset.
The theory is a general one. Illnesses happen for various reasons and causes. What I wrote is not absolute. It can simply happen to further humble a person or defend that person from something bad. I am writing from a spiritual point of view.
So sorry to hear of your mom's illness. Such a difficult thing to go through, for the whole family. There doesn't seem to be a particular cause that we can point to as 100 percent. Or if there is, it's certainly still at this time unknown.
I personally think dementia is also from inflammation. I think a lot of it has to do with western medicine also and all the prescription they prescribe. I have head trauma And I'm 46 and I am showing signs of it.
It could be. There is so much we don't know. Are you trying to go on a diet to combat inflammation? Sorry to hear you are experiencing this already. You are so young!
My parents had a wonderful marriage for 53 years. After my dad died, my mother really isolated herself. I doubt that caused dementia (since that was 12 years ago, and she developed symptoms about 4-5 years ago), but I wonder if her isolation after his death brought on the dementia faster.
I worked for a family whose mom developed dementia just a year after losing her husband. I always thought it might have been related. It could very well be that her isolation brought it on. So sorry to hear. Difficult to deal with and watch a parent go through it. I wish they could figure out cures more quickly!
Divorce may not cause dementia, but I will bet that dementia causes divorce. I'm not saying every spouse quits loving their sick partner, but I do believe the stress will make it hard to hold a marriage together. Without the help of our son and his family, my sister and some close friends and the VA, I would be very depressed. I don't think I would leave but I think the quality of his care would not be as good.
We have been married 65 years and my husband has Alzheimer’s.. we still love each other deeply and I care for him at home. He is totally bedridden.
So sorry to hear. You are an angel. A beautiful love story. May God give you the strength you need to continue.
Well my father in law, in his demented state, decided he was better off without his wife and called my husband to come get him from across the country. Which my husband did and his wife pretty much said good riddance. No argument from her. Smart lady. Years later we found dementia meds in his belongings dated prior to him moving here. She knew!!! Lol. Anyway, marriage didn't help him.
They have no certain cures or causes, to be sure. Sounds like she wasn't prepared or equipped to deal with dementia. It's a lot to deal with, especially if you are not really in love with your spouse, which happens a lot.