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08 February 2017

Link between Alzheimer’s and loneliness a challenge for carers and campaigners alike

Lonely people are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s in later life, according to new research. A groundbreaking study reveals a significant link between feelings of solitariness and the risk of having the degenerative brain disease. Among those who lived alone, almost one in ten developed dementia after three years compared with one in 20 of those who lived with other people.

The biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, is age. The older you are the more likely you are to develop it. Sadly, there is also a too frequent link between age and loneliness – 200,000 people aged 65 and over have not had a conversation with friends or family for a month.

The study linking Alzheimer’s and loneliness comes as family and friends of the late Labour MP Jo Cox launch a nationwide campaign to tackle loneliness. Mrs Cox had started work on the cross-party campaign before she was killed in her constituency last year. The commission in her memory will work with 13 charities including Age UK to come up with ideas for change.

Research shows that nine million people say they are "always or often lonely". MPs want the campaign to be a call to action to encourage people to chat and start conversations. The commission is asking people to do more, for example knocking on a door or picking up the phone. Mrs Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, said she wanted to continue the MP’s legacy "by ridding society of loneliness one conversation at a time."

“Loneliness can be a chronic condition, especially for elderly people living alone,” says Chris Smith, Managing Director of Coate Water Care “and if you add dementia to the equation it makes life a real challenge. For our part, we make sure the residents at all seven Coate Water Care homes are surrounded by caring and attentive staff who do everything possible to ensure no-one feels isolated or alone.”

“Some of our care homes can provide for married couples or friends who want to stay together but have different needs. And as studies show that having hobbies and an active social life can be beneficial, we offer all our residents a stimulating programme of activities tailored to their needs, including gardening, baking, music, armchair-based sessions, pet therapy.”

Coate Water Care is a family-run company with seven outstanding care homes. Please contact our ‘Welcome Team’ Michelle or Geraldine (01793 821200) to arrange a visit to one of our care homes.

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