Weird Way Friends Will Improve Your Health

Weird Way Friends Will Improve Your Health

According to a recent study, maintaining strong, healthy friendships throughout old age can help slow down or prevent decline in cognitive abilities.
Emily Rogalski, an associate professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC), and her team of researchers began analyzing the mental abilities and social circles of men and women in their 80s.
Interestingly, she calls this sample group of participants “SuperAgers,” since they have the mental ability and agility of people in their 50s to 60s. 
According to Medical News Today:
“Rogalski and her colleagues asked 31 SuperAgers and 19 age-matched controls to complete a 42-item questionnaire that enquired about their psychological well-being.

The questions spanned across six criteria: “autonomy, positive relations with others, environmental mastery, personal growth, purpose in life, and self-acceptance.”

Participants were at least 80 years old, and their episodic memory was “at least as good” as that of their middle-aged peers.

Episodic memory is defined as “the capacity to recall specific experiences, as if one were to ‘mentally time travel’ to re-experience individual events.”

Both the SuperAgers and the age-matched groups showed similar, high levels of mental well-being and stability across a variety of dimensions. However, the SuperAgers had much greater amounts of positive, social relationships.

Medical News Today states:

“More specifically, SuperAgers scored a median of 40 in the measure of social relations with others, whereas the controls only scored 36. As the senior researcher explains, this is a significant difference.

It could be the case, the authors write, that this difference is reflected in some neurological traits that have been observed in previous studies, as well.

These neurological features are “the greater thickness of the anterior cingulate gyrus and higher density of von Economo neurons” that researchers previously found in the brains of SuperAgers.

However, this is only a speculation, as the study is observational and cannot explain the mechanisms responsible for the findings.”

Rogalski notes that these results are very compelling, as they show that there is a link between the act of maintaining strong friendships and the slowing down of mental decline.

Granted, Rogalski recognizes that this is not a guarantee. “It’s not as simple as saying if you have a strong social network, you’ll never get Alzheimer’s disease,” she states. Despite this, having a strong social circle can be an excellent way to help prevent it.

According to Rogalski:

[If] there is a list of healthy choices one can make, such as eating a certain diet and not smoking, maintaining strong social networks may be an important one on that list. None of these things by [themselves guarantee] you don’t get the disease, but they may still have health benefits.”

– Emily Rogalski