Health

How Your Friends Can Help Keep Your Mind Sharp and Ward Off Dementia

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Are you someone who’s constantly canceling with your friends or loved ones? Whether it’s because of an already busy schedule or just an overwhelming urge for some downtime, we’ve all been there — but a new study claims we should all make a bit more of an effort when it comes to keeping our social plans. 

New research from University College London claims that regular social interaction in middle age and later in life lowers our risk of developing dementia. The team observed more than 10,000 participants from 1985 to 2013, making it one of the longest and most in-depth studies on the subject. “People who are socially engaged are exercising cognitive skills such as memory and language, which may help them to develop a cognitive reserve,” senior author professor Gill Livingston explained in a press release. “While it may not stop their brains from changing, cognitive reserve could help people cope better with the effects of age and delay any symptoms of dementia.”

According to their findings, just hanging out with friends a few times a week at age 60 was associated with a “significantly lower risk” of cognitive decline versus those who only saw one or two friends every few months. They found equally promising results in participants in their 50s and 70s, too. Along with being mentally stimulating, Livingtson believes there could be a beneficial connection with physical activity — like making an effort to get out and see your buddies — which is also shown to lower the risk of dementia. 

Be honest, even when you really don’t feel in the mood to be social, you still usually end up having a good time when you actually keep your plans with friends. And if sharing a few laughs and staying up-to-date on each other’s lives also helps keep your mind sharp, that’s just icing on the cake!

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