According to new research carried out at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, scientists found out that moderate social engagement can help to prevent dementia in older people.
The findings reported that older people can benefit from socialization as it helps reduce the risk of dementia in older people. When older people engage in physical activity, diabetes or heart disease can be prevented.
The scientists collected the data before the pandemic began. According to Cynthia Felix, the lead author of the research, the findings are very important since the social isolation of the elderly may put them at risk of developing dementia.
Older adults should know it is important for their brain health that they still seek out a social engagement in safe and balanced ways during the pandemic.Cynthia Felix
The researchers made use of information that was obtained from 293 community-dwelling participants. These participants receive a sensitive brain scan known as Diffusion Tensor Imaging MRI which measured the cellular integrity of brain cells.
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The participants also provided information about their recent social engagement and a tool developed by Felix was used to score the participants. People who engaged in play board games, travel long distances, go to movies, attend lectures, get together, go to church, etc. were awarded high scores.
Engaging in social activities with one relative or friend can help to activate specific brain regions required to recognize familiar emotions and faces. Even moderate social engagement seems to be beneficial.
We need to do more research on the details, but that’s the beauty of this–social engagement costs hardly anything, and we do not have to worry about side-effects.
There is no cure for dementia, which has tremendous costs in terms of treatment and care giving. Preventing dementia, therefore, has to be the focus. It’s the ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy when it comes to the brain.Felix
However, Felix noted that the cause-and-effect of this study needs to be truly understood. Does greater engagement in social activities keep these brain regions healthy? Or do people who have a healthy brain engage in social activities more?
According to Felix, her team’s findings alongside other research offers justification for randomized control trials to evaluate the effect of specific types and amounts of social activities on the brain.