According to a new study, being more socially active at 60 years of age is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia later on. The findings were published in PLoS One.
Researchers at the University College London (UCL) analysed data from 10,228 participants of the Whitehall II study. The participants were inquired on six separate occasions about their frequency of socialising with friends and relatives. Additionally, they underwent cognitive testing. Diagnosis with dementia was determined through electronic health records of the participants.
The findings showed that increased social contact at the age of 60 years was linked with a substantially lower risk of developing dementia later in life. Additionally, individuals who interacted with friends almost every day at that age had a 12 per cent lower likelihood of developing dementia compared with those who only interacted with one or two friends every few months.
Frequent social contact at the age of 50 and 70 years was also associated with a lower risk for dementia; however, these associations failed to achieve statistical significance. Despite this, researchers believe social contact at any age may have a similar effect on lowering the risk for dementia.
Professor Gill Livingston from UCL said: "Spending more time with friends could also be good for mental wellbeing, and may correlate with being physically active, both of which can also reduce the risk of developing dementia."