Social life 'cuts cognitive decline'

Posted on 26 April 2011

Older people who enjoy an active social life could stave off cognitive decline, research has shown, indicating that people with long term care plans should keep busy.

Research carried out at Rush University Medical Center revealed that social activities such as going to parties or church and visiting friends could stave off the cognitive decline seen in ageing.

Bryan James, study leader, explained the findings could be due to a 'use it or lose it' element, whereby social activity challenges people to take part in complex interpersonal exchanges, promoting efficient neural networks.

"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," he said.

"But our findings suggest that social inactivity itself leads to cognitive impairments."

This follows findings by University of California scientists that revealed a link between cardiovascular risk and cognitive decline.

It was found that people with stroke and heart disease risk factors had a higher risk of decline in verbal fluency and the ability to ignore irrelevant information.

Posted by Natalie Edwards

 

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