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Published on: February 19, 2017
Staying socially engaged with a wide circle of friends and family may help maintain our thinking skills and slow cognitive decline as we age, according to a report out today by the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH).
“It’s not uncommon for our social networks to shrink in size as we get older,” said Marilyn Albert, Ph.D., GCBH Chair, Professor of Neurology and Director of the Division of Cognitive Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. “This report provides many helpful suggestions about the things we can do to improve the quality of our relationships with family and friends, which may be beneficial in maintaining our mental abilities.”
The Brain and Social Connectedness report addresses the social benefits of having pets, the role that age-friendly communities play in fostering social ties, and how close relationships promote both physical health and psychological well-being. The report also covers how social media like Facebook and Skype helps older adults maintain their social connections.
Separately, a new AARP consumer survey finds nearly 4 in 10 adults age 40-plus say they lack social connections and report worse brain health.
Tips for Improving Social Engagement
A few tips for older adults to help improve their social involvement:
“We know that loneliness and social isolation can increase physical health risks for older people,” said Sarah Lock, AARP Senior Vice President for Policy, and GCBH Executive Director. “The GCBH’s consensus that people who are socially engaged have a lower risk for cognitive decline shows us just how important social connections are to brain health.”
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