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Forgetful? Socializing Can Improve Your Memory!

Decline in memory is one of the most upsetting aspects of aging. It threatens the quality of life and independence of elderly citizens. However, scientists may have found a key weapon in the fight against memory loss: social interaction.

Scientists at Harvard School of Public Health found that the rate of memory loss due to aging is lower in socially active individuals than it is in socially withdrawn individuals. Their study was published online in May 2008 for the American Journal of Public Health.

Scientists examined data in the Health and Retirement survey, which followed 16,638 Americans above age 50 over 6 years. The participants’ memory was assessed by the short term and long term recollection of a 10-word list. Social integration was measured by marital status, volunteer activity, and frequency of contact with family members.

The scientists found that those with the lowest levels of social integration experienced twice the rate of memory decline as those with high integration.

High social integration has also been found to decrease the risk of dementia and overall cognitive decline.

Source: Karen A. Ertel, M. Maria Glymour, Lisa F. Berkman
Effects of Social Integration on Preserving Memory Function in a Nationally Representative US Elderly Population
American Journal of Public Health, 10.2105/AJPH.2007.113654
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