Active social life = delayed memory loss?

I don’t know too much about geriatric research but this seems like an exciting finding.

An active social life appears to delay memory loss as we age, a new study shows.

The finding, which appears in the July issue of The American Journal of Public Health, suggests that strong social ties, through friends, family and community groups, can preserve our brain health as we age and that social isolation may be an important risk factor for cognitive decline in the elderly.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health used data gathered from 1998 to 2004 from the Health and Retirement Study, a large, nationally representative population of American adults ages 50 and older. Participants took memory tests at two-year intervals during the study period. Testers read a list of 10 common nouns to survey respondents, who were then asked to recall as many words as possible immediately and again after a five-minute delay. The researchers also measured social integration based on marital status, volunteer activities, and contact with parents, children and neighbors.

The results showed that individuals who in their 50s and 60s engaged in a lot of social activity also had the slowest rate of memory decline. In fact, compared to those who were the least socially active, study subjects who had the highest social integration scores had less than half the rate of memory loss. The researchers controlled for variables like age, gender, race and health status. Those who had the fewest years of formal education appeared to have the most to gain from an active social life as they aged. The study showed that the protective effect of social integration was greatest among individuals with fewer than 12 years of education.

Advertisements

Comments are closed.