Research undertaken by doctors in Holland suggests that there is a link between feelings of loneliness and the development of dementia in old age.
The study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, shows that those who feel lonely are 64 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia in later life.
Forming part of the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly, the investigation was led by Dr Tjalling Jan Holwerda. As part of the study, scientists conducted tests on over 2,000 people over the age of 65, looking for factors related to depression, dementia and high death rates. The same people were then re-tested three years later.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Holwerda said: "Individuals with feelings of loneliness remained 1.64 times more likely to develop clinical dementia than persons who did not feel lonely."
However, Jessica Smith from the Alzheimer's Society insists that further investigation is required to prove "whether it is a risk factor or in fact an early symptom". She explained that there is "strong evidence" that the risk of dementia can be reduced by not smoking, eating healthily and exercising.
Read more about Barchester's dementia care homes.