Widowhood Might Delay Dementia's Onset

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-07_95e0f6f863.jpgiStock/Thinkstock (SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) -- As strange as it seems, there may be a hidden benefit to becoming a widow. Dr. Bryan Woodruff, an assistant professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, says that elderly women who lose their husbands may actually stave off the onset of dementia considerably longer than their married counterparts.

Woodruff studied 3,800 married men and women who began to show some brain decline and was astounded to learn that widowed women progressed to full-blown dementia at age 93, about a decade later than women who hadn't lost a spouse.

More research will be necessary to explain and verify the findings, but Woodruff espouses at least one theory as to why this occurs. He suggests that the support and attention widows receive "trumps the widowhood effects we see in other conditions," such as depression and the so-called "broken heart" syndrome.

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