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More Research Links Social Interaction With Slower Memory Decline

By June 3, 2008

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Photo © MicrosoftResearchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found a not-too-surprising link between social interaction in one's later years and a slower rate of memory decline.

Everyone experiences some degree of normal age-related memory loss, but several studies have suggested that staying socially active can enhance brain health and reduce one's risk for more severe memory loss, such as that which is associated with Alzheimer's disease.

In this study, memory declined twice as fast among people age 50 and above who were the least socially active when compared to those who were the most socially engaged. Social activity included marriage, volunteer involvement, and at least weekly contact with others such as adult children or neighbors.

The researchers speculated that social activity may motivate people to take care of themselves so that they're fit to meet social obligations. Interactions with others may also stimulate the brain in such a way that isn't possible when a person is solitary. Either way, the study adds to already existing support for maintaining or increasing social interaction as we age as a means of keeping the brain healthy.

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