How friendships reduce dementia

According to recent research, a lack of friendship can increase your risk of dementia.

How friendships reduce dementia

Research shows that being socially active protects the brain against the risk of developing dementia. Separate studies have found that:

So, how do friendships boost your brain and make it resilient to ageing?

Having an active social life naturally involves thinking, feeling, sensing, reasoning and intuition. These mentally stimulating activities increasewhat neuroscientists call your ‘cognitive reserve’, which workout your brain cells, similar to the effect that strength training has on your muscles. In your brain’s case, it’s the formation of new connections, or synapses, between neurons.

With whom you connect matters too. And it’s your friends who count the most, according to ameta-analysis of 148 studies, which included 300,000 people studied over seven years. It found that people with strong social relationships had an increased likelihood of survival than those with weaker social connections.The report also shows that loneliness and lack of social connectionis:

  • equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • equivalent to being an alcoholic
  • more harmful than not exercising
  • twice as harmful as obesity.

So, the moral of this story is that your number one prescription for wellbeing (brain and all) is socialising. And if you are in need of some help in the friend-making department, these YourLifeChoices articles may come in handy:

Making friends at any age

Have fun making friends

Ten websites to help you make friends


    To make a comment, please register or login
    20th Aug 2015
    I think so many suggestions as to how to deal/ improve brain activity to reduce risk or prolong life if not entirely due to dementia have already been covered. But there's only one basic point in all these exercise and that is to improve brain activity to connect/reconnect those sensors that are not being used. This points to the plasticity of the brain. However, there is still the fact that remains with the regard to the development of plaque which like the plaque in our arteries that can't be avoided but merely reduced a bit through exercise and maintaining a good diet.
    20th Aug 2015
    The importance of social activity has long been ignored. In South Australia our U3A (University of the Third Age) motto is "Staying active: mentally, physically and socially". Anyone wanting a cheap and easy way to embrace those 3 important ways to fight dementia should check out their local U3A. If there isn't one, contact their State office for information on how to start a U3A. It is one of those organisations where the more effort and time you put into it, the more you benefit.
    20th Aug 2015
    Making friends at any age
    Have fun making friends
    Ten websites to help you make friends

    When I clicked on any of the above the message that comes up is:
    We're sorry, the page you are searching for can't be found.
    Inky Black
    20th Aug 2015
    Annamaria - the links have left "news/" out of the middle of the addresses, and therefore produce an error. The easiest way around this is to type the article name into the "Search" bar at the top of the page, and this will lead you to the article.
    22nd Aug 2015
    Thanks, Inky Black
    Young Simmo
    20th Aug 2015
    I have my own medicine to fight Dementia, it is called, Spider Solitaire.
    I just need some competition.
    Currently at 2734 games, 100% win rate.
    Quickest game 3 mins 43 secs, longest 1 hour 20 mins.
    Chris G
    20th Aug 2015
    Eclair,I couldn't agree more about the value of U3A!

    21st Aug 2015
    You've made my day...after all the negative advice we are dished up daily....this made me smile thanks Sal
    23rd Aug 2015
    Due to circumstances not all of us have families or lots of friends who are available for socializing every day, I dont have family close by and lost most of my friends once I got married, its very difficult to meet new people because they are all in established groups.
    Chris G
    24th Aug 2015
    Helenc, I totally understand, having been in that situation myself. U3A is a good substitute for family :)

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