HealthMental Health


Want To Keep Your Wits As You Get Older? Get Out And Socialize

About 2 in 5 octogenarians with above average memories showed signs of Alzheimer's in postmortem examinations, but they never developed the disease.
Posted at 5:55 PM, Feb 22, 2018

For years, researchers have tried to stop the onset of Alzheimer's disease and other memory-related problems caused by aging. Now, some scientists think a group of seniors might hold a key to extending cognitive ability.

In a new study, researchers looked at the lifestyles of "superagers" — octogenarians with better-than-average memories — and found most of them shared a key trait: They were more socially active and had stronger relationships than other people their age.

Researchers think superagers created more meaningful relationships because they were generally more optimistic and resilient than their peers. They say this attitude helps superagers stay motivated to be active by doing things like traveling or organizing social clubs.

The results are especially striking because some superagers did things that could hurt their physical wellbeing, even while they took care of their mental health. Researchers found about 70 percent of superagers smoked, while about 80 percent regularly drank alcohol.

And superagers did have some biological similarities, like a thicker-than-average outer brain layer, which helps control memory function. Superagers also had four to five times more of a certain kind of neuron believed to affect how humans process social situations.