December 12th, 2012
Yes, there is a difference. Why one is more likely to trigger serious memory problems?
In a study published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, Tjalling Jan Holwerda of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam found that participants who reported feeling lonely — regardless of how many friends and family surrounded them — were more likely to experience dementia than those who lived on their own. The scientists focused on nearly 2,200 older adults living in Amsterdam, ages 65 to 86, who did not show signs of dementia and were not living in institutions like nursing homes, and visited them twice over three years. About half of the participants lived alone and 20% reported feelings of loneliness. Almost two-thirds of the elderly in the study were women.
Prior research suggested that having a supportive social network is linked with positive health outcomes, from psychological health to physical health, while lacking such support can be harmful. Indeed, a growing body of studies find that loneliness itself can kill, typically by raising blood pressure and increasing risk for heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for dementia.