Late-life loneliness and incident dementia

The American Journal of Geriatric PsychiatryScott Cunningham MD PhD, et al. | December 07, 2022



It has been well-established that social isolation and perceived loneliness are risk factors for dementia and overall poor health. Among the 5 categories of loneliness identified in the current study, elderly with high-level, long-term loneliness over time were shown to be at highest risk for incident dementia.

Social isolation and a perception of loneliness can be considered modifiable risk factors for dementia.

Data involving 6722 elderly were obtained from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Loneliness was assessed > 3 times over an 8-year interval using the short 1980 version of the University of California Los Angeles Loneliness Scale. The association between loneliness trajectory and incident dementia was determined.

Five loneliness trajectories were identified: long-term low; persistently decreasing; persistently increasing; long-term moderate; and long-term high. The HRs for dementia using long-term low loneliness as the reference were 1.29, 1.55, 1.56, and 3.35, respectively.