Strong Social Network May Help Protect Against Dementia

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According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, elderly women who maintain daily contact with friends and family may be less likely to develop dementia than women who are less sociable.

The study conducted by Crooks et al. examined 2,249 female members of a health maintenance organization in Southern California who were 78 years of age or older and were classified as not having dementia. The observational study interviewed participants over a four year period and analyzed how social activity affected one’s cognitive status. During follow-up interviews, the women answered questions about their social network, the frequency in which they saw their friends and family, and who they reached out to for support.

Researchers found that participants who had strong family ties and an active social network of friends were 26% less likely to develop dementia than those who were less sociable and not in frequent contact with others. “Our findings suggest that larger social networks have a protective influence on cognitive function among elderly women,”Crooks explains. “Future studies should explore which aspects of social networks are associated with dementia risk
and maintenance of cognitive health.”

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