As we age, some loss of memory seems inevitable. You can influence how quickly your memory declined to exercising your brain with mental fitness activities and brain training games and programs. You can also protect your memory by staying in touch with friends and family.
Friends and Families Protect MemoryThe more connected a person is, the slower the memory decline. What that means is that having many relationships and maintaining those relationships as you age is a great way to keep your brain young. A 6-year study of more than 16,000 Americans aged 50 and older examine memory loss, aging and social connections. Researchers tested memory by how accurately the subjects recalled a 10 word list immediately after seeing it and after some time had passed. The average score declined by one point over the six years of the study.
Marriage, Volunteering and Contact With PeopleResearch participants were also asked about whether they were married, if they volunteered, and how often they had contact with their neighbors, children and family members. Those with more social interactions have slower rates of memory decline over the 6 year period.
Why Relationships and Memory are LinkedThe “why” question behind research studies is always tough. There are a number of reasons that memory and social connections/relationships are linked. To get to the “why” question you have to consider other reasons that could explain the association between social connections and memory. Here are some examples that could explain the link:
- A person who is “age well” may have more energy to dedicate to keeping up with friends and family.
- A person with chronic illness may have trouble also staying connected and participating in activities such as volunteering.
- People who are more socially connected may have personality traits (like being an extrovert) that help them get better medical care by asking more questions and seeking out help.
Maybe the best thing for mental fitness would be to put down the puzzle book, turn off the TV and go out and find some people to interact with.
Source(s): Karen A. Ertel, ScD, M. Maria Glymour, ScD and Lisa F. Berkman, PhD. Effects of Social Integration on Preserving Memory Function in a Nationally Representative US Elderly Population. July 2008, Vol 98, No. 7 | American Journal of Public Health 1215-1220.
Karen A. Ertel, ScD, M. Maria Glymour, ScD and Lisa F. Berkman, PhD. Effects of Social Integration on Preserving Memory Function in a Nationally Representative US Elderly Population. July 2008, Vol 98, No. 7 | American Journal of Public Health 1215-1220.