Alzheimer’s disease study suggests close relationships can help – Facebook style social networks not so muchHealth Saturday, August 21st, 2010
An Alzheimer’s disease (AD) study published in February of 2007 in the Archives of General Psychiatry explored a connection between Alzheimer’s and loneliness.
The study concluded that loneliness which is defined as someone with a socially isolated lifestyle with no close connections to others around them double the risk such individuals could develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Having a large network of online friends such as found on social networks like Facebook or MySpace are not considered to be helpful either unless those contacts are actually very close friends. If they’re simply casual acquaintances, then that’s not the same as having truly close friends which the study suggests can help a great deal.
The study’s authors believe that loneliness can decrease “brain reserve capacity” which neuroscientists describe as our brains resilient ability to continue functioning despite deterioration as we age. Brain reserve is considered to be a buffer against diseases and age related changes that can eat away at neurons which are cells in the nervous system and bran that process and transmit information. As such socially lonely persons are more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease.
While having very close friends is not a guarantee of preventing Alzheimer’s disease it is still recommended that older adults participate in social activities to increase the odds of creating close ties to other’s and increase their social network.
Ultimately the study concludes that its close friendships with even one or two people that‘s more important than large social networks that don’t create close bonds as a means to help ‘reduce’ the chances of contracting Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
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