Losing Your Mind?

Posted by on Aug 8, 2008 in women's health | 3 comments

[Pictured: Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati. Hindu godesses]

Researchers would have you believe that being single has something to do it.

Musings of a Midlife Diva posted this story earlier this week and I was curious enough to see if I could delve a bit deeper.

Evidently, researchers from Sweden have found that maintaining regular social interaction as one ages is one of the keys to optimal brain health and potentially, decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. However, they attribute brain health to the intensity of social and intellectual stimulation that accompanies married life and couple relationships.

In this study, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference last month in Chicago, 1,449 individuals were examined at midlife and then 21 years later. The findings showed that people living with a partner in mid-life were less likely to be cognitively impaired,and had a 50% lower risk of developing dementia in later life. What’s more, persons whose spouses died before they reached middle age and who did not remarry had a more than six-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Delving a bit deeper, I learned that the reason for living alone is key. In fact, study participants who were widowed or divorced were worse off than those who were single.  What’s more, an interaction was found between carrying the gene for Alzheimer’s and being/staying widowed although the researchers could not explain why.

There’s a hidden lesson in these study findings: sisterhood.

As Mid Life Diva emphasizes in her post, the researchers did not address the importance of community, especially sisterhood. Indeed, the degree of intellectual and social stimulation that can be derived outside a marriage was not accounted for in these findings.

As we move through the transition and changes in our midlives, it becomes more important than ever to celebrate our friendships and our connections. Afterall, a marriage of like-minded souls is what fuels our imaginations, stimulates our senses and keeps things fresh and new. While I agree that intimacy fulfills needs that friendships can’t, at the end of the day it’s my sistahs who will ultimately see me through and keep me sane.


  1. 8-8-2008

    Great job, Liz! Sisters and like-minded women like yourself, my “extended family”, we Mid Life Divas will keep each other sane for years to come!

  2. 8-8-2008

    great post. i am thinking that my husband my be driven to insanity by living with me, any research on that one?

  3. 8-9-2008

    Hi Liz,
    Very helpful explanation. I just shook my head in bewilderment when I first read the study about dementia and being single.
    Wishing you every good!

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