Widowhood and Alzheimer’s . . . and other storiesBMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4363 (Published 19 November 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4363
Cognitive decline in widows
Older men and women whose husbands or wives have died are particularly susceptible to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Harvard Ageing Brain study (JAMA Netw Open doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.0121). At the time of recruitment, participants in the study had positron emission tomography to measure neocortical β-amyloid levels and they subsequently underwent annual cognitive assessments. Those with high β-amyloid levels experienced faster cognitive decline whether they were married or not, but the steepest rates of decline occurred in people who were widowed.
Being a widow may not help the ageing brain but being employed does. Among …