- Cognitive abilities are reading, thinking, memorizing, etc.
- As we get old such skills starts fading
- It can also be a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Study suggests that social network can slow down the disappearance of such skills
- Study recommends charity organizations to make opportunities for aged people to establish social connections
A decline in cognitive abilities may happen as we get older. But, can we make it slower? Can we increase the quality of life of aged people?
Cognitive abilities are a set of tasks like thinking, reading and memory skills that sustain through brain functions. With the each passing day, due to the stress, lifestyle and dying cells, aged people may experience a cognitive decline or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). MCI can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or dementia in the elderly population.
Here, a recent research has revealed that sustaining social networks helps slow down the progression of cognitive decline in aged people. In simple words, a good network of friends in the after-60-life can decrease your chances of MCI.
The study included as many as 3593 participants and all aged above 65 years living in and around Wales, England. As a part of the research, the frequency at which the participants established contact with friends, family, and other social activities were collected. Information on existing health conditions like high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, were also gathered.
The researchers also assessed the extent of cognitive decline in participants including the presence or absence of memory problems. The existence of anxiety or depression among the participants was also evaluated.
The study revealed that people with less cognitive decline and mood problems were appeared to establish good social contacts. People who took the effort to keep in touch with friends and families had better cognitive abilities including memory power. Aged people with MCI seem to have less rich social networks when compared to others.
Various researches have already established the benefits of the social network in preventing anxiety, depression or other mental disorders. The recent study associates it with MCI and mood problems in aged.
The researchers recommend that taking initiative to improve social networks of older adults might help them get over with the difficulties. While many aged people may restrict themselves from establishing contacts with the family and friends due to their difficulty to travel or other practical barriers, organizations or institutions or even their families can make opportunities for the aged ones to mingle with others. It will have a positive impact on their well-being.
The study was published in the latest issue of BMC Geriatrics Journal.