Do you want to keep your brain healthy and vibrant in old age? Then simply meet your friends, attend parties or simply go to church!
According to a research conducted by the Rush University Medical Centre, Chicago, frequent social activities may help prevent or delay cognitive decline in old age.
“It”s logical to think that when someone”s cognitive abilities break down, they are less likely to go out and meet friends, enjoy a camping trip, or participate in community clubs. If memory and thinking capabilities fail, socializing becomes difficult,” said lead researcher Bryan James.
“But our findings claim that social inactivity itself leads to cognitive impairments,” he said.
Social activities included engaging in social interaction like going to restaurants, sporting events or playing housie, day trips or overnight trips, volunteer work, visiting relatives or friends, among others. The study included 1,138 older adults with a mean age of 80, who are participating in the Rush Memory and Aging Project.
Each of them underwent yearly evaluations that included a medical history and neuropsychological tests. Social activity was measured based on a questionnaire that asked participants whether, and how often, in the previous year they had engaged in activities that involved social interaction like going to restaurants, sporting events or playing bingo, day trips or overnight trips, volunteer work, visiting relatives or friends, among others.
Cognitive function was assessed using a battery of 19 tests for various types of memory as well as perceptual speed and visuospatial ability.
At the start of the investigation, all participants were free of any signs of cognitive impairment.
Over an average of five years, however, those who were more socially active showed reduced rates of cognitive decline.
On average, those who had the highest levels of social activity (the 90th percentile) experienced only one quarter of the rate of cognitive decline experienced by the least socially active individuals.
The study has been published online in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.