Loneliness could be a factor in Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research.
Researchers used brain-imaging techniques to determine levels of amyloid – a protein associated with the disease – in the brains of a group of 79 apparently healthy people with an average age of 76.
They then compared this to a test designed to find out how lonely someone is.
After controlling for factors such as age, sex, genetics, depression, anxiety, socio-economic status and the participants’ social networks, they concluded that people with preclinical Alzheimer’s were 7.5 times more likely to feel lonely compared to people who did not have any early warning signs of the disease.
While the study found evidence of a correlation between loneliness and early signs of the disease, it was unclear whether social isolation might actually be one of the reasons why Alzheimer’s develops or if it was simply one of the symptoms.