Having a loved one with dementia is more burdensome to spouses because of close emotional ties to their partners, making them six times more likely to develop the condition themselves, a new study said.
Researchers from the Utah State University in the US studied 1,221 couples comparing each of them to those with and without dementia.
The report, which was published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, found a link between stress and depression to spouses watching their partners deteriorate which could increase the risk of developing the same disease.
Having a loved one with dementia is stressful regardless of age, but the burden for spouses may be even greater because of close emotional ties to their partner, their own medical co-morbidity, greater risk for functional limitations, and greater likelihood of fatigue with physical exertion. the research team said.
In the last 12 years, 200 people over the age of 65 were diagnosed with dementia, 125 cases were diagnosed to the male partner, 70 only for the female partner and 30 for the couples (60 people).
Director of Research at the Alzheimer's Society, Professor Clive Ballard said that couples who live exactly the same lifestyle have higher possibilities to be exposed to the same risk factors of dementia.
By keeping a healthy weight, getting regular exercise throughout your life and managing blood pressure and cholesterol from 35 onwards you can reduce your risk of developing dementia by up to 20 per cent. Prod. Ballard said.
Chief Executive Rebecca Wood from the Alzheimer's Research Trust was surprised with the outcome of the research.
This is the first time that having a spouse with dementia has been suggested to increase dementia risk, so further research is required to verify the results.