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 Social Ties May Delay Your Memory Loss 

Social ties with family and friends may delay the decline in your memory. These are the conclusions reached by a new research study conducted by Dr. Lisa F. Berkman from the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and her colleagues in a recent report in the American Journal of Public Health.

Dr. Berkman stated "Our results suggest that increasing social integration may be an important component of efforts to protect older Americans from memory decline."  This study looked at the impact of social integration on changes in memory over six years among 16,638 Americans aged 50 and older who were enrolled in the Health and Retirement study.  Research looked at two different aspects of memory including immediate and delayed recall of a list of 10 words, while social integration was then assessed according to marital status, volunteer activity, and frequency of contact with children, parents and neighbors. 

Researchers found that the average memory score declined from 11.0 in 1998 to 10.0 in 2004.  Study participants who were found to be either high in social integration or low in social integration were found to have similar memory scores in 1998.  These scores then changed over the next six years.  It was found that people who were defined as being high in social integration in 1998 actually suffered lower rates of memory decline over this six year period of time then their peers who were found to be lower in sociability.  Participants who were defined as being among the least sociable, were found to decline at twice the rate as those who were found to be more socially integrated. 

Dr. Berkman and her colleagues went on to say that "Being in the highest level of social integration ameliorated more than half of the age-related decline in memory."  These findings are totally consistent with previous research which has found that being  socially engaged is associated with lower rates of decline and to be at a lower risk of dementia

Adapted from the Reuters article Social Ties Delay Memory Loss In The Aged (May 29, 2008)

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate                                      

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