How do you feel when you’re lonely? Empty? Depressed? Isolated? The Amsterdam Study of the Elderly recently concluded that of the 2,000 people who participated in a recent study, 64 percent had an increased risk of the disease if they felt alone.
Dr. Tjalling Jan Holwerda of VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam wrote in his report for The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, “These results suggest that feelings of loneliness independently contribute to the risk of dementia later in life. Interestingly, the fact that ‘feeling lonely’ rather than ‘being alone’ was associated with dementia onset suggests that it is not the objective situation but, rather, the perceived absence of social attachments that increases the risk of cognitive decline.”
The report also states that loneliness may be an effect of early dementia, not its cause.
Jessica Smith of the Alzheimer’s Society says the feeling of loneliness can be heightened during the holiday season as friends and family gather for parties but for others the season can exacerbate loneliness.
As the holidays draw near, make sure to reach out to those who may not live near friends or family. Make it a point to stop by and say hello. An act of kindness will go a long way for someone who is lonely.