Try to spend more time with your friends and family this week. It’s not just because it’s fun, it’s for your own health. A growing body of research suggests that socializing is not only key to maintaining your memory; it also helps ward off diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers studied more than 2,000 women over a span of four years. They reported that older women with larger groups of friends significantly reduced their risk of dementia. The more socially active older women were 26 percent less likely to develop dementia than those with smaller social networks. And the most socially active women, those who had daily contact with friends and family, cut their risk of dementia by nearly 50 percent.
Valerie Crooks, the lead author of the study, said that the findings suggest that social activity provides crucial stimulation for the brain. “In even the most basic exchanges,” she explained to AARP, “we have to think about how to respond, and that stimulates the brain.”