Certain social habits may demonstrate a greater risk of dementia.
Relationships are important.
A strong family can provide security, love, encouragement, and trust.
Good friends choose to spend time with you and be a part of your life in the good and bad times.
In short, people of all ages need to be in relationship with others.
According to a recent Yahoo Life article titled “If You Do This in Social Situations, Your Dementia Risk Soars,” relationships and being social can impact your health as well as your happiness.
In fact, social habits can influence brain functioning.
This is especially important considering the prevalence of dementia.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 5 million adults currently have dementia in America.
Because there is no cure, research has focused on risk factors and prevention.
One study recently published in Neurology focused on how social interactions correlated to brain health.
The research was conducted by a team from China and the U.K.
Of the 462,619 participants in the study with an average age of 57, about 5,000 developed dementia within 12 years.
The researchers ran MRI scans, gathered information from the participants about social contact, and administered cognition tests.
What were the results of this study?
Researchers found those who were isolated from social interactions had lower brain volume in the areas associated with thinking and learning.
These areas of the brain are significantly impacted by Alzheimer’s disease as well.
The correlation was noticeable.
Those who were socially isolated had a 26 percent greater risk of developing dementia when compared with those who reported regular social engagement.
Simply feeling lonely was not associated with an increased risk of dementia.
This specific study found the physical reality of social isolation was more significant as a dementia risk factor than the internal sense of loneliness.
Although social disconnection has increased as a result of concerns around COVID-19, social isolation was a problem prior to 2020 according to data from the U.S. Biobank.
The events of recent years simply underscore the importance of socializing.
Prioritizing healthy lifestyle choices like eating a balanced diet, drinking only in moderation, avoiding smoking, and staying physically and mentally active can also have a positive impact on reducing dementia risk.
Although these can steps can be taken alone, it is important to seek support from and relationship with others to reduce the impact of social isolation as a risk factor for dementia.
After all, no man is an island (John Donne).
Reference: Yahoo Life (June 14, 2022) “If You Do This in Social Situations, Your Dementia Risk Soars”