Social Isolation Tied to Wide Variety of Dementia Risk Factors

Risk factors for Alzheimer disease-related dementias including lifestyle behaviors, physical health, and mental health are associated with social isolation.

HealthDay News — Social isolation is associated with risk factors for Alzheimer disease-related dementias (ADRD), across lifestyle behaviors, physical health, and mental health, according to a study published online Feb. 1 in PLOS ONE.

Kimia Shafighi, from McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues examined associations between social isolation and dementia risk factors. The analysis included data from 502,506 U.K. Biobank participants and 30,097 participants from the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging.

The researchers observed associations between classical ADRD risk factors and both loneliness and lack of social support. There were greater odds of being lonely and lacking social support among individuals who smoked more, excessively drank alcohol, experienced sleep disturbances, and failed to frequently participate in light-to-vigorous physical activities. In the Canadian cohort, increased regular participation in physical exercise with other people was associated with a 20.1 percent decrease in the odds of feeling lonely and a 26.9 percent decrease in having poor social support. There were also associations observed between known physical and mental health ADRD risk factors, such as cardiovascular disease, vision or hearing impairment, diabetes, and neurotic and depressive behaviors, as well as both subjective and objective measures of social isolation.

“Our population-scale assessment suggest[s] that social lifestyle determinants are linked to most neurodegeneration risk factors, highlighting them as promising targets for preventive clinical action,” conclude the authors.

Abstract/Full Text