Being socially active can reduce chances of dementia in adults

Socially active adults are less prone to dementia.

Washington: While adults might find social media a bit of trouble, but it can benefit them in a great way. A new study has found that being more active socially in 50s and 60s makes adults less prone to developing dementia later on.

The study published in 'PLOS Medicine' found that social contact earlier in life can play an important role in keeping off dementia. "Dementia is a major global health challenge but we also know that one in three cases are potentially preventable," said the study lead author, Dr Andrew Sommerlad. "We've found that social contact, in middle age and late-life appears to lower the risk of dementia," added Sommerland.

Researchers tracked 10,228 participants who had been asked on six occasions between 1985 and 2013 about their frequency of social contact with friends and relatives. The same participants also completed cognitive testing from 1997 onwards, and researchers referred to the study subjects' electronic health records up until 2017 to see if they were ever diagnosed with dementia.

Researchers found that increased social contact at the age of 60 is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing dementia later in life. The analysis also showed that someone who saw friends almost daily at age 60 was 12 per cent less likely to develop dementia than someone who only saw one or two friends every few months.

They found similarly strong associations between social contact at ages 50 and 70 and subsequent dementia. Social contact in mid to late life was similarly correlated with general cognitive measures. According to the researchers, there are a few explanations behind this phenomenon.

"People who are socially engaged are exercising cognitive skills such as memory and language, which may help them to develop cognitive reserve 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," said senior author Professor Gill Livingston.

He added, "Spending more time with friends could also be good for mental wellbeing, and may correlate with being physically active."

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