Tags: Alzheimer's/Dementia | friendships | sharper | minds | aging | Alzheimers

Close Friendships Tied to Sharper Mind

Close Friendships Tied to Sharper Mind
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By    |   Thursday, 02 November 2017 11:38 AM

Warm, close friendships may be the key to slowing the mental decline associated with aging, says a new study from Northwestern Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine.

SuperAgers, those who are 80 years of age and older who maintain the cognitive abilities of those in their 50s and 60s, report they have more satisfying, high-quality relationships than their peers who have average cognitive ability.

Other studies have examined the biological differences between SuperAgers and their peers. They discovered differences such as a larger brain cortex in the SuperAgers, but the new study was the first to examine social influences.

"You don't have to be the life of the party, but this study supports the theory that maintaining strong social networks seems to be linked to slower cognitive decline," said senior author Emily Rogalski.

Participants answered a 42-item questionnaire that examined six aspects of psychological well-being: autonomy, positive relations with others, environmental mastery, personal growth, purpose in life and self-acceptance.

SuperAgers scored a median overall score of 40 in positive relations with others while the control group scored 36, a significant difference according to Rogalski.

"This finding is particularly exciting as a step toward understanding what factors underlie the preservation of cognitive ability in advanced age, particularly those that may be modifiable," said the study's first author Amanda Cook.

Other studies have found a decline in social networks in people with Alzheimer's disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Research has also shown that psychological well-being in older age is linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's

"It's not as simple as saying if you have a strong social network, you'll never get Alzheimer's disease," Rogalski said. "But if there is a list of healthy choices one can make, such as eating a certain diet and not smoking, maintaining strong social networks may be an important one on that list. None of these things by themselves guarantees you don't get the disease, but they may still have health benefits."

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Other studies have found that simply doing crossword puzzles can give aging brains a boost. A study from U.K.'s University of Exeter Medical School and Kings College London found that people who regularly reported doing word puzzles such as crosswords as they age had sharper brains that function equivalent to 10 years younger than their biological age.

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Warm, close friendships may be the key to slowing the mental decline associated with aging, says a new study from Northwestern Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine.SuperAgers, those who are 80 years of age and older who maintain the cognitive abilities of those in their 50s...
friendships, sharper, minds, aging, Alzheimers
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2017-38-02
Thursday, 02 November 2017 11:38 AM
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