Research suggests that social isolation and loneliness is linked to an increased risk of dementia - so keeping connected to the people around us is another good way to give back to our brains.
A major study in 2020 suggested that social isolation in later life could be a factor in around 4% of dementia cases. More recently, researchers from China and the UK have built on this study, finding that social isolation is linked to lower brain volume in parts of the brain associated with learning and thinking, as well as an increased risk of dementia.
It’s not yet fully understood why this relationship exists though. While research does suggest that social isolation can increase dementia risk, it can also be a result of the very early stages of the condition, even if it hasn’t yet been diagnosed.
Keeping connected is not only good for our brain health. It can help us feel happier and healthier in general, by spending time with loved ones, having virtual catch-ups with friends further afield and making new connections by joining clubs or volunteering.
Several studies have suggested a link between hearing loss and dementia risk too. Researchers, including Dr Piers Dawes at the University of Manchester, are now working to get to the bottom of whether hearing loss is a risk factor in itself, or if it could increase a person’s risk of dementia by making it harder for them to stay connected to the people and the world around them.
Read our blog on how hearing can affect your dementia risk to find out more.
Lots of people experience some degree of hearing loss as they get older. If you’re worried about yours, why not try the RNID's free online hearing check or speak to your doctor and get it checked.