Memory

Top 5 Ways for the Aging to Remain Socially Engaged

Source: howstuffworks.com

Source: howstuffworks.com

No matter how old you are, engaging socially with other people is important.Through socialization, we adjust our perceptions, increase our knowledge, acquire new skills -- and just have fun. Interpersonal relationships are often the most important part of a person's life, and the mental stimulation they provide never gets old, even if you do.

Aging presents a series of role transitions: ending a career for retirement, becoming a grandparent and perhaps even counting on help from the same children who once counted on you. Throughout all of these changes, socialization provides us with a way to learn through watching others navigate their own ways through these changes. Social interaction also allows for the sharing, processing and comparison of perspectives and thoughts on aging and what it means to you on a personal level.

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Research Suggests a Positive Correlation between Social Interaction and Health

Source: National Institute on Aging

Source: National Institute on Aging

Several research studies have shown a strong correlation between social interaction and health and well-being among older adults and have suggested that social isolation may have significant adverse effects for older adults. For example, study results indicate that:

  • Social relationships are consistently associated with biomarkers of health.

  • Positive indicators of social well-being may be associated with lower levels of interleukin-6 in otherwise healthy people. Interleukin-6 is an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.

  • Some grandparents feel that caring for their grandchildren makes them healthier and more active. They experience a strong emotional bond and often lead a more active lifestyle, eat healthier meals, and may even reduce or stop smoking.

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Good Friends Might Be Your Best Brain Booster As You Age

Source: Kaiser Health News

Source: Kaiser Health News

Ask Edith Smith, a proud 103-year-old, about her friends, and she’ll give you an earful.

There’s Johnetta, 101, whom she’s known for 70 years and who has Alzheimer’s disease. “I call her every day and just say ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ She never knows, but she says hi back, and I tease her,” Smith said.

There’s Katie, 93, whom Smith met during a long teaching career with the Chicago Public Schools. “Every day we have a good conversation. She’s still driving and lives in her own house, and she tells me what’s going on.”

Then there’s Rhea, 90, whom Smith visits regularly at a retirement facility. And Mary, 95, who doesn’t leave her house anymore, “so I fix her a basket about once a month of jelly and little things I make and send it over by cab.” And fellow residents at Smith’s Chicago senior community, whom she recognizes with a card and a treat on their birthdays.

That may be one reason why this lively centenarian has an extraordinary memory for someone her age, suggests a recent study by researchers at Northwestern University highlighting a notable link between brain health and positive relationships.

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