A new study which shows that being married and having close friends could help protect against dementia has been welcomed by Fernhill House whose focus is very much on social interaction and friendship.   

The findings follow an in-depth study carried out by researchers at Loughborough University, University College London and universities in the States and Brazil. 

Dementia lead at Fernhill House, Paul Turvey says that while the research doesn’t prove that marriage helps stave off the illness, having close friends certainly improves everyone’s general wellbeing. 

The study, which began 15 years ago, involved monitoring thousands of over 60s who didn't have dementia when they were first questioned. The 6,677 participants were asked about their marital status and the number of close relationships they had.   

Researchers then followed the participants for an average of six years to see how many developed dementia, with 3.3% of the sample (220 people) either receiving a dementia diagnosis or having the disease indicated by questionnaires.   They found people who weren't married, had fewer social relationship or were lonely had a higher risk of developing dementia.   

Other factors included heart and vascular disease, impaired mobility, and lower educational levels.   

Paul echoed comments from the NHS which explained: “As the causes of some types of dementia – particularly Alzheimer's disease – remain poorly understood, it's difficult to isolate the effect of a single factor like marital status.   “It seems more likely that the quality of the marriage and family and social relationships is likely to be the important factor, not just the presence of these relationships.   

“An unhappy marriage may do little to benefit your wellbeing, and you don't have to be married to have a happy and fulfilling relationship.”   

The ethos of Fernhill House is for residents to have happy, fulfilling lives. It has innovative dementia friendly facilities such as an indoor potting shed, a ‘real’ pub, a shop and 1950s and 60s themed games.   Arts and crafts, holistic therapies and gardening, events such as tea dances, choir therapy, recitals by string quartets, celebrity guest speakers, cooking workshops and bubbles and blinis evenings are regular fixtures on the activities calendar.