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Older people who report feeling lonely are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to a new study from the Netherlands. The subjective feeling of being isolated and alone appeared to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, regardless of whether someone was married or had a social network.
For the study, researchers followed 2,173 seniors, ranging in age from 65 to 86. None had dementia at the start of the study, which lasted three years. The researchers assessed their degree of social isolation, including whether they lived alone and lacked a spouse, partner or network of friends, as well as how lonely they reported feeling. About half lived alone, and one in five reported feeling lonely.