Good Friends Can Help Save Your Mind

Research from Northwestern University suggests that maintaining strong social relationships may be as important as a healthy diet and not smoking for keeping your wits about you as you age. This finding emerged after the investigators analyzed responses to a psychological well-being questionnaire taken by a group called “SuperAgers”, seniors in their 80s whose minds remain as sharp as those of people in their 50s and 60s. The participants reported having more satisfying and quality relationships than others of the same age whose responses to the questionnaire showed them to be cognitively average. Earlier studies have found a decline in social networks in people with dementia and mild cognitive impairment, the researchers noted. They added that psychological well being in older age has been linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s. First author Amanda Cook viewed the new finding as an “exciting…step toward understanding what factors underlie the preservation of cognitive ability in advanced age, particularly those that may be modifiable.”

Emily Rogalski et al, “Psychological well-being in elderly adults with extraordinary episodic memory.” PLOS ONE, October 23, 2017 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186413

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