It's no secret that our lives are made better by friends. We all need a good group of people in our lives who aren't family or coworkers. We need friends we can laugh with, get away with, and bond with over shared interests. It's really amazing how good spending time with friends can feel, and how much it can rejuvenate and restore our minds and souls, right? Well, as it turns out, it can actually be good for our health, too! A study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University found that spending time with our friends as we age has a positive impact on our brain health. So not only is spending time with friends fun and restorative, it actually makes our brain stronger!
The study focused on the psychological well-being in elderly adults. Researchers followed a group of SuperAgers. These are men and women over the age of 80 whose memories were as good as, or better than, people 20-30 years younger. They had a group of 31 SuperAgers and 19 people in the same age group with average cognitive skills. Both groups were asked to fill out a 42-question survey which asked them about things like personal growth, purpose in life, self-acceptance, and positive relationships with others.
They found that, even though the groups did not differ on demographic factors, the SuperAgers tended to have better episodic memory overall. One area in particular is very interesting: SuperAgers reported having more positive relationships with other people. In all other areas, the SuperAgers and the other peer group scored very similarly.
In other words, the social relationships that SuperAgers reported had a positive effect on their memory and cognitive abilities. Other research has shown that positive relationships in an elderly person's life may reduce their risk of cognitive decline, cognitive impairment, and even dementia. It's so important for our mental health to have positive social relationships in our lives. And now we know that it's important for our physical health, as well.
So hold on tight to those friends, guys. Not only can they make your life better on a day-to-day basis, but they may end of benefiting your brain health in your golden years.