Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Socializing Reduces Dementia Risk

Did you know that many of the causes of dementia are within our control?  For example, following the MIND diet, getting adequate sleep, and engaging in a variety of types of exercise have all been shown to dramatically reduce your risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease.  Socializing is another important way to improve your brain health and lower your dementia risk.

Social Isolation Causes Many Health Problems

Some people become socially isolated as they get older.  They may have trouble walking or driving, making it more difficult to go out.  They may not see friends or family members as often.  Their former friends, spouse and other family members may have died.  Approximately one-third of older Americans report being lonely.  While this is about the same percentage as the loneliness reported by younger adults, the loneliness in older adults can have more serious consequences if they start to believe they no longer have a reason to leave their home.

Surprisingly, people in large urban areas are more likely to report loneliness than people who live in small towns.  This may be a good reason to either retire to a small town or become more active and involved in your neighborhood within your current city.

Not only does isolation lead to a poor quality of life, it has also been connected to depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, decreased physical health and an increased risk of death.  It is also linked to the development of dementia.

How to Become More Socially Active

If you have lost loved ones, you may begin to give up your attempts to socialize.  However, it is important to be proactive and seek out new friends throughout your life, not just when you are young.  Below is a list of a few ways to do this:

*  Visit your friends and family as often as possible.
*  Call your loved ones when you cannot visit them.
*  Volunteer in your neighborhood.  There are many organizations which would love the help!
*  Get involved in a church, synagogue, mosque or temple.  Many of them offer a wide variety of social activities.
*  Join a gym or club.  Take group classes in yoga, dancing or other fun activities.
*  Start a book club, dinner club, movie club, quilting club or other social club.
*  Start a walking group.
*  Seek out a Senior Center in your community.  They have regular activities all day long.  Be sure to participate often.
*  Take classes and learn a new skill with other people.  
*  Immerse yourself in hobbies which you love.  One study indicated that people in their 60s are in the most productive decade of their lives, especially if they are historians, inventors and writers.  Make an effort to get to know other people with similar interests.  Give them encouragement and they are likely to do the same for you.

The Benefits of Being Socially Active

*  Your mental health will be enhanced, with less depression and a lower risk of dementia. You'll have a more positive outlook on life.
*  New friends will give you a sense of belonging and create lasting bonds.
*  Your self-esteem will improve and you will feel more confident.
*  Your physical health will improve and your immune system may be stronger.  If you share meals with other people, your nutritional intake will be better.  You are also more likely to have an active lifestyle.  All these things can improve your health.
*   According to research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, socializing keeps your brain sharp.  It encourages us to continue to learn new things and respond to the world around us.
*  Being social and engaging with other people encourages us to get dressed, stay clean, be well-groomed and go out.  In turn, this improves our state-of-mind.
*  Being social gives our lives meaning and helps us remember why life is worth living.  That, alone, is a good reason to be more socially active.

No matter how much or how little you are able to do, you will be healthier, happier and mentally sharper if you reach out to other people and stay in touch frequently!  Get out there and have some fun!


  If you are interested in learning more about medical concerns such as dementia, Alzheimers or other problems as you age, where to retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare or more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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