Taking those bridge lessons or joining the senior centers computer class, or attending the CPR training class at your local hospital may be just what it takes to lower your risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Recent studies reported that learning is good but there was a mixed bag about what kind of social contact works. For instance, one study said marriage was also helpful and another study reported that marriage was not helpful.
This most recent study, published in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health, clearly demonstrated that large social networks reduced the risk of getting dementia by 26 percent. The study started in 2001 with 2,200 women 78 years and older with no dementia. At the end 268 were diagnosed with dementia. Those with large social networks showed a reduced risk. Marriage, on the other hand, did not make a difference.
Interestingly, those with daily contact had a lower risk of dementia. The contact didn't have to be face-to-face; it could be email or telephone. And there is no exact number of what makes up a social network. The researchers think the number has to be more than two. You could, however, have three close friends, and be fine.
It appears that the more interaction, the more you challenge your brain which all fits in with the data that shows isolation is bad for you. Even so more study is needed to focus on exactly which aspects of social support are linked to the decrease of dementia risk.
There you have it. Keep your friends and make some new ones. Stay in touch with family. Keep learning and exploring. The risk for dementia is still there for you but you have reduced the possibility.
To your successful aging,