People living in larger households are at less risk of dying from dementia and could stave off the progression of the disease for longer, according to a global study conducted by researchers in evolutionary medicine at the University of Adelaide.
The study looked at variables in living standards and conditions for people over 60 years from more than 180 countries worldwide to measure the significance of factors. These include GDP, urbanisation, age, and household size, which found that people living in larger households or with families fared better than those living alone.
Biomedicine researcher and PhD candidate supervisor at the University of Adelaide and lead on the project, Dr Wenpeng You said the correlation between household size and reduced risk of the worst impacts of dementia is quite strong.
“Independent of ageing, urbanisation, and GDP, we found large households protect against dementia mortality,” Dr You said.
“It’s a significant finding in informing how we plan care and living services for people as they age because it shows that human factors – relationships, a sense of connection and purpose, encouragement and praise, meaningful engagement with others – are all quite important in combatting the progress of dementia.”
Dementia is one of the biggest challenges for the health sector in the 21st century, with an estimated cost globally of AU$1.160 trillion.
Emeritus Professor Maciej Henneberg, the study’s senior author, says humans have evolved to live in families and communities.
“We are one of the few species that have adapted over thousands of years to rely on extended family groupings from cooperative breeding, and then evolved alloparental care, until shaped for flourishing in small communities,” Professor Hennenberg said.
“In the stretch back across that evolution, it has really only been a very short period where we have moved away from that. We are actually not well-adapted to the contemporary trends of small families, personal space and individualism.”
He said there were some very practical benefits to living with family or other household residents.
“There are usually regular mealtimes, there is conversation, people to check to see if you have taken your medications, and family members encouraging regular activity.
“That engagement, when it is positive, stimulates the production of oxytocin, often dubbed the happiness hormone, and that has been shown to have a positive effect on physiological wellbeing by protecting cardio-vascular systems associated with vascular dementia and may exert a beneficial slow-down on dementia development,” he said.
Large households protect against dementia mortality
By ANMJ Staff|March 4th, 2022
In my lifetime the extended family has dissolved to acceptance that a family can be one person and a pet. Although a pet is a loving distraction, it can’t offer words, only sounds. The negative effects of living alone not only affects dementia mortality but mortality, caused by isolation, unacceptable value of the pension in Au., cost of living, and a portrayal of the elderly or aging population as a burden on society.
Government hospitals have a planning for retirement for “older nurses – from 55 years of age”. This has become to mean casualisation of the older workforce (essentially deskilling process), the understanding amongst the public relations departments within those hospitals for fifteen years that there is a shortage of nurses, therefore justifying the 457 visa and the following immigration, with the focus on “young nurses being trained and given employment”. Essentially age discrimination of Australia’s older nurses, justified by the passé adage ” the old eat the young”. Is that true? The NMBA published figures in 2020, and confirms that there is a reduction in staff from 32ish and a rapid decline from 50’s years of age. The old never ate their young, the discipline of the day, produced excellent nurses and democratic team spirit and friends for life. Everyone was treated well, and everyone worked with excellent work ethics.
Today older nurses are assured they may not have a home to live in, they might have to share or board, or indeed be homeless on or after retirement. As we have seen in the Queensland Northern rivers flood, insurance which includes flood insurance can be as much as $700 per month, And ones nest egg may completely disappear or be rendered uninhabitable by greedy insurers or natural disaster.
The question arises, what is it to be human? Yes indeed inclusion is the solution.