Social Interaction and Your Memory
Yes, the use it or lose it principle applies to your body, mind and every bit of your being. And you've probably heard that crossword puzzles, memory games, chess, keeping up with developments in the world, and taking an interest in people and everything around you are important in maintaining the abilities of your brain. And they are. Your diet is also vitally important, staying away from many processed foods.
Here's one of the most effective and pleasant ways to keep a sharp memory as the years go by. It doesn't just maintain your memory, its also a vital factor in extending your life. Try calling a friend. Keeping in touch with friends and loved ones could slow the pace at which your memory and your body declines with age.
A study(1) of over 17,000 older adults showed that people who were married and in regular contact with friends, family, and neighbours had slower declines in memory than their less social counterparts. Activity in volunteer groups was also significant. Memory declines in the most socially active people were about half of those in the least social group.
The researchers were not sure how social activity prevented memory decline, but proposed that a greater sense of meaning and emotional acceptance from social connections may support healthy brain chemistry.
Another study (2) found that when people spent some extra cash on someone else or on a charity, they experienced greater happiness than those who used it on bills or personal items. Don't have any spare cash? Giving of your time, expertise, and volunteering your work have the same effect.
1. Effects of social integration on preserving memory function in a nationally representative
US elderly population. Ertel, K. A. et al., American Journal of Public Health. 2008 Jul; 98(7):1215-1220
2. Spending money on others promotes happiness. Dunn, E. W. et al., Science 2008 Mar 21;319(5870):1687-1688.