One of the greatest fears that comes with aging is that you?ll lose your memory. I?ve talked in the past about ways to protect your memory. These include removing heavy metals, eliminating certain medications, and taking specific supplements. But it looks like there?s another solution. One that costs nothing and feels good while you?re using it.
And, just as important, there?s scientific evidence to back it up. According to a new study, spending more time with your friends can keep your memory sharper.
Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago recently found a link between loneliness and memory loss. In this case, the link was an Alzheimer?s-like dementia. With Alzheimer?s, there are changes in the brain that are not present in this form of memory loss.
The researchers followed more than 800 people with an average age of 80 for four years. They evaluated each person for various stages of dementia and Alzheimer?s disease. The researchers also assessed their degree of loneliness. And each year they tested the patients for their thinking abilities and memory.
The more lonely the person was, the higher their risk of memory loss. In fact, the people with the highest loneliness scores had twice the risk of developing an Alzheimer?s-like disease over those with a low score.
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Right now there are only theories to explain why loneliness and feelings of isolation contribute to age-related memory loss. But there?s no reason to wait for an explanation. Your friends are valuable - and not just to your emotional health. They can really help your mental health. So go ahead, call your friends often and see them whenever you can. They?re more than a shoulder to cry on or a loving addition to your life. Just spending time with them regularly can help you preserve and even improve your memory.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Wilson, RS, PhD, Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64:234-240.