Have some fun! Lower your Risk of Dementia
Studies have shown that people over age 55 with large social networks have smaller declines in thinking and memory function than those who spend most of their time alone.
We already knew that preventive measures such as word and computer games, reading and coloring books, and strategic thinking helped to stave off Alzheimer’s. But this information is even better. Now we’re learning that the very activities that make life a pleasure–spending time with friends and family that we love, or hobbies and leisure that we enjoy, or studying and learning something new just for the thrill of it, can help protect our brain against memory loss.
When researchers divided people according to how much they enjoyed interacting with others, those who tended to enjoy being involved with others in a meaningful way were less likely to develop Alzheimer than those who were less involved in relationships with other people.
That’s not to say that instead of staying home and reading a good book, you should go to the movies, even if you have to go with someone who talks your ear off with complaint after complaint. No, bad relationships cause stress, and lots of stress would certainly outweigh any benefit of socializing with them. We’re talking about the good relationships. The fun times in your life. The people you enjoy socializing with. Be sure to spend time with people who make you feel good–not bad. Life is always better when stress-free, even if that means occasional times without companionship at all.
Even working with groups of other people tends to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. In one large study, people whose jobs required much of their time be spent working or talking to others were less likely to get Alzheimer’s than those who worked alone. Research has also shown that having strong social networks whether at work or play lessens the effect of Alzheimer’s-related brain damage on thinking and memory.
From the Book: The Alzheimer’s Action Plan
“The link between social Networks and brain Networks may be–“
- People who regularly socialize with large groups of family and friends are more likely to engage in more physical and mental activity, which boosts brain functions.
- Very social people may have stronger brain circuits or more easily use alternative circuits when the need arises to remain social after Alzheimer’s symptoms have begun.
- Social engagement may reduce effects of stress on the brain, and people with few friends tend to have more stress in their lives
If you are self-conscious and stressed when forced to socialize in large crowds, don’t stress! As stated earlier, stress is not a good thing for your brain, either. Close relationships don’t absolutely guarantee that you won’t get Alzheimer’s. And you certainly wouldn’t be the first person who prefers alone-time to busy friendships. Stimulating activities are good for your brain, even if enjoyed alone.
As long as the activity you choose is not causing stress–then enjoy it! Even challenging work, if enjoyable alone, is a busy activity that will protect your brain. Stimulating leisure activity helps the brain build “cognitive reserves,” extra connections between cells that our brain can turn to as it ages. When we reduce stress and promote a healthy lifestyle, we’re helping our brain.
In a landmark study, these Four activities were the most significant at at protecting against Dementia : Reading, board games, playing musical instruments, and dancing.
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If you’re young enough to Play! You may save your Memory