HealthDay News — People who remain married in older age may have a lower dementia risk, according to a study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B.

Hui Liu, PhD, from Michigan State University in East Lansing, and colleagues used data from the Health and Retirement Study (2000 to 2014) from 15,379 participants (6,650 men) aged ≥52 years in 2000 with no evidence of dementia at the baseline survey. Dementia was assessed every two years, either in person or via telephone.

The researchers found that all unmarried groups, including the cohabiting, divorced/separated, widowed, and never married, had significantly higher odds of developing dementia during the study compared with their married counterparts. Economic resources and, to a lesser degree, health-related factors were responsible for only part of the marital status variation in dementia. Among men who were divorced/separated and widowed, the odds of dementia were even greater compared with married respondents.

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“This research is important because the number of unmarried older adults in the United States continues to grow, as people live longer and their marital histories become more complex,” Liu said in a statement. “These findings will be helpful for health policy makers and practitioners who seek to better identify vulnerable populations and to design effective intervention strategies to reduce dementia risk.”

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