According to a recent study published by JAMA Psychiatry, older people living alone are more likely to suffer Alzheimer. This is because seniors with a high rate of cortical amyloid usually experience a greater sense of loneliness, which is usually associated with a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease in pre-clinical phase.
The study was conducted based on data from 79 people around 75 years, and with good cognitive status. They were asked to perform a test in which they evaluated their feeling of loneliness, how often they felt alone and if they thought that, they were separated from others. The study revealed that 28% of participants had high levels of APOE4 – a molecule indicating a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease – and 32% had a high cortical amyloid burden. With these data, the researchers observed that the elderly with high levels of amyloid are 7.5 times more likely to experience feelings of loneliness than those without amyloid. In addition, this ratio is higher as the amyloid and APOE4 load increases.
Dr. Nancy J. Donovan, lead author of the paper and psychiatrist at the Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, explained that these data could be explained in two ways. The first is that the changes caused by Alzheimer’s in the brain may be related to alterations in the way in which social interactions are perceived, which can induce the elderly to feel alone. The second explanation is that these people with incipient Alzheimer’s symptoms, social interactions can pose them a cognitive effort, which would lead them to reduce their social activity and thus to experience feelings of loneliness.
For this reason, it is essential that older and telecare users can move freely and go out, which will help them to keep their social interactions active. Neat Group has developed for them NEMO, a mobile telecare terminal that allows them to go out for a walk carrying with it a comfortable device that keeps them in touch in case of emergency.