Leo Sher, M.D.
A research report, “Marital status and dementia: Evidence from the health and retirement study” has been published in The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences online ahead of print (1).
Researchers from Michigan and Texas examined data from the Health and Retirement Study (2000-2014). The sample included 15,379 respondents (6,650 men and 8,729 women) age 52 and over in 2000 who showed no evidence of dementia at the baseline survey. Dementia was assessed using either the modified version of the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS) (92%) or the proxy’s assessment (8%). The authors measured marital status as a time-varying covariate reflecting the current marital status at the time of the survey. The variable comprised of five categories: married (reference), cohabiting, divorced/separated, widowed, and never married.
The authors of the study observed that all unmarried groups including cohabiting, divorced, widowed, and never-married respondents had significantly higher odds of developing dementia during the 14-year study period than their married counterparts. The authors have noted that this is the first study to find that cohabiting adults have a higher risk of dementia than married adults. Economic resources and health-related factors accounted for only part of the marital status variation in dementia. For divorced/separated and widowed respondents, the differences in the odds of dementia relative to married respondents were greater among men than among women. The authors suggest that remaining unmarried in midlife and beyond may be a risk factor for the onset of dementia.
- Liu H, Zhang Z, Choi SW, Langa KM. Marital status and dementia: Evidence from the health and retirement study. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2019 Jun 28. pii: gbz087. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbz087. [Epub ahead of print]