Though the researchers are unable to explain the link they have suggested that it could be related to the increased levels of stress that come with being a carer, especially when they are elderly themselves.
The new study followed 1,221 older people all of whom had a spouse suffering from dementia. Throughout the study the participants regularly took memory and concentration tests and were found to deliver results below average.
The study was unable to explain why people caring for a spouse could be at a higher risk but the researchers made two main suggestions. Firstly there is a possibility it could be related to increased levels of stress and grief that come with caring for a partner or alternatively it could be linked to the fact that both have shared the same environment for many years, diet, healthcare etc meaning they both shared similar risks of dementia. However researchers did stress that the study already takes into account some of these factors and they are unlikely to be responsible for all the increased risks.
Further studies are needed in order to determine why this happens but for now if you are caring for a partner with dementia then it is important you get all the help you are entitled to. If you are finding it difficult to cope as a single carer then visit your GP and see if they can help you to arrange nursing care or even just help around the home. In most cases your family will also be more than happy to offer help so don’t be afraid of accepting it.