Good news for married folks

A marriage is a commitment for life, a vow before God to remain together in both sickness and in health.

It's a promise you keep in more ways than you might realize.

Folks who are married keep each other healthy in so many ways that are often unseen, and the latest research reveals what may be the most important health boost yet.

Married folks have a much lower risk of dementia!

Yes, you might drive each other out of your minds every now and then, but it looks like you can PROTECT each other's minds, too.

Overall, lifelong bachelors and bachelorettes are 42 percent more likely to develop dementia than folks who were married at midlife.

The only jump in risk for married folks comes after the death of a spouse. After that sad event, the dementia risk jumps by 20 percent when compared to folks who are still married.

No doubt, it's the toll of the stress from the loss of your "better half."

But even then, that's still much lower than the risk facing single folks.

One reason for it is pretty simple: People who aren't married tend to be alone much of the time, especially in their later years.

That's not very good for your brain, which needs a little stimulation through conversation and social interactions.

Being married keeps your neurons firing away as you chat, make plans, and keep each other active and engaged. That, in turn, protects your brain from some of the damage of aging and cuts the risk of memory loss, cognitive struggles, and -- as the new study shows -- even dementia.

It's not just the brain that gets a boost.

Other studies have shown that marriage can cut your risk of any number of health problems, no doubt in part because a spouse can nag you about getting things checked out that you might otherwise ignore if left on your own.

One study found that being single can increase the risk of a heart attack by two-thirds. And if you do happen to have a heart attack, being married can double your risk of survival afterward.

Being married can even cut your risk of heart disease itself by about 5 percent, according to another study.

Obviously if you're not married, don't rush off to the chapel just because of this study.

But do make sure you get out, get social and stay engaged, and take steps to protect both your brain and your heart.