Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Socializing Can Help Elderly Women Stay Sharp

Date:
June 6, 2008
Source:
Center for the Advancement of Health
Summary:
Socializing with friends and family can do more than lift the spirits of elderly women -- it can improve cognition and might help prevent dementia, according to a new study. The study began in 2001 and included women at least 78 years old who were free of signs of dementia. Researchers conducted follow-up interviews between 2002 and 2005.

Socializing with friends and family can do more than lift the spirits of elderly women — it can improve cognition and might help prevent dementia, according to a new study.

The study began in 2001 and included women at least 78 years old who were free of signs of dementia. Researchers conducted follow-up interviews between 2002 and 2005.

“We’ve interviewed people who were not demented and who were able to report on their social network at baseline in 2001," said lead author Valerie Crooks. “By starting with people who are cognitively intact and following them over time, you can begin to make a legitimate link between social networks and dementia.”

Crooks is director of clinical trials administration and a research scientist at the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. The study appears in the July issue of The American Journal of Public Health.

Women frequently experience increasing social isolation as they age, but it has been difficult to make a solid connection between this social separation and cognitive function and dementia.

For this study, researchers pooled data from 2,249 members of a health maintenance organization, comparing health conditions and demographic information for women with and without dementia at follow-up, at which time they identified 268 new dementia cases in the previously screened women.

The researchers rated each woman’s social network by asking about the number of friends and family members who kept in regular contact, and of these, how many she felt she could rely on for help or confide in.

Of the 456 women with low “social network” scores, 80 women (18 percent) had developed dementia. Of the 1793 women with stronger social networks, 188 (10 percent) had developed dementia.

“The study does a laudatory job of addressing the relationship of these variables,” said Deborah Newquist, Ph.D., director of geriatric services at Louisville, Ky.-based ResCare, Inc. However, concluding that isolation causes dementia might be overstating the case, said Newquist, who is not associated with the study.

“The fundamental problem here is one of the chicken and the egg,” she said. “Are weak social relationships caused by dementia or the other way around?”

“"Finding ways to help older adults remain engaged in productive and enjoyable activities is an important component of successful aging,” said Cathleen Connell, Ph.D., head researcher at the Center for Managing Chronic Disease at the University of Michigan. “Not only have social networks been linked to positive physical and mental health outcomes, but also to quality of life."

“Our findings indicate that it’s important to think about ways to try to reduce the amount of isolation people have — even those with families,” Crooks said. “It’s also important for us to find out what kinds of social support groups we can create for people who are isolated based on extreme age or lack of family.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Center for the Advancement of Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Crooks et al. Social network, cognitive function, and dementia incidence among elderly women. American Journal of Public Health, 2008; DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.115923

Cite This Page:

Center for the Advancement of Health. "Socializing Can Help Elderly Women Stay Sharp." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080603185011.htm>.
Center for the Advancement of Health. (2008, June 6). Socializing Can Help Elderly Women Stay Sharp. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080603185011.htm
Center for the Advancement of Health. "Socializing Can Help Elderly Women Stay Sharp." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080603185011.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins