Socializing for Life: one of four protective factors in brain health

Socializing for Life: one of four protective factors in brain health

What do dogs, young children, teenagers, young parents, middle-aged people and elders have in common? We all need socialization! Social engagement is one of four protective factors in brain health later in life.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides the following facts:

  • Social engagement is associated with living longer with fewer disabilities
  • Staying engaged in the community offers you an opportunity to maintain your skills
  • Remaining both socially and mentally active may support brain health and possibly delay the onset of dementia.

Healthline adds, “Compelling research suggest seniors who spend most of their time in their immediate home environment are almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who travel more.”

While socializing is important, it’s not always easy to do. Changing abilities are a reality; however, everyone can stay engaged in meaningful activities with appropriate supports.

The National Institute on Aging provides a few ideas to get you started:

  • Cultivate your social network (partner, children, friends), interacting with them daily to weekly. Go to visit friends or family.
  • Participate in social groups or any organization weekly
  • Visit a senior center and take part in its events and activities
  • Attend local events, such as the theater, concert, or a sporting event
  • Join a group interested in a specific hobby like knitting, hiking, bird watching, or painting
  • Visit local museums. Many offer free group tours.
  • Play cards or other games with friends
  • Volunteer at a local nonprofit organization.
  • Take a cooking, art, dance, language or computer class.
  • Form or join a book or film club.

Even as abilities change, everyone can engage in meaningful activities. Address barriers to participation. Is a care partner needed? Modifications to previously enjoyed activities might make them doable again. People who stay engaged experience a happier life.

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