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Child’s love may lower dementia risk in seniors

London: Relationship with your adult children and spouse is linked to the chances of dementia.

According to a new research, while having supportive adult children appeared to be protective, having unsupportive relatives seemed to have an opposite and more dramatic effect.

The finding suggests, older adults, who experienced a reliable, approachable and understanding relationship with their adult children, were less likely to develop dementia, said study author Mizanur Khondoker.

Khondoker added, “Conversely, a close relationship that did not work well, such as experiencing critical, unreliable and irritating behaviors from spouses or partners, children and other immediate family, was related to increased risk of developing dementia.”

To examine the same, the researchers looked at data that had been collected between 2002 and 2012, including more than 10,000 men and women aged 50 and older. All were deemed dementia-free, when they enrolled in the study.

Follow-up interviews were conducted on a bi-annual basis, during which, the researchers recorded all new cases of dementia and ranked social relationships on a negative-to-positive scale, ranging from one to four.

By the end of the study, 3.4 percent of the participants (190 men and 150 women) had developed some form of dementia.

The researchers observed, those who had received positive support from their adult children faced a reduced risk of dementia. Khondoker described the association as “modest,” noting that for every one-point increase in positive support from an adult child, dementia risk dropped by an average of 17 percent.

Conversely, for every one-point increase in an individual’s overall negative social support “score” — the risk for dementia went up by 31 percent, he said.

Khondoker said the study simply assessed the overall risk that someone would develop dementia of any kind, and did not differentiate dementia by type. Also, the research wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between family support and dementia risk.

But the research team theorized that social support may promote healthy behaviors, such as minimal drinking and an active lifestyle. On the other hand, a negative close relationship might discourage such positive choices, while also giving rise to increased stress.

“Further research is needed to better understand any causal mechanisms that explain the statistical associations observed,” Khondoker added.

The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. (ANI)