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Being Active In Social Groups Helps Slow Down Mental Decline In Older People

Update Date: Jan 08, 2017 10:26 PM EST

A recent study claims that being active in social groups, like volunteer organizations and church groups help slow down the mental decline in older people. Older people active in social groups are said to have maintained their sharp mental skills even at the age of 50.

The study conducted by British researchers from the University of Southampton found growing evidence that being socially active in groups help slow mental decline as people age. Around 9,000 participants at the age of 50 took a standard exam that tests their cognitive abilities such as memory, thinking, and reasoning skills.

The researchers found out that the participants who have said to be active in social groups tested higher than those who said they were not active in any social groups. Factors such as higher educational attainment and better physical health and condition also attributed to high test scores. However, even accounting said factors, the result of the study shows that test scores of participants said to be active in social groups are statistically higher than the rest.

Ann Bowling, the lead researcher of the study, acknowledges that their study has limitations and the cause-and-effect of the findings were not proven. Published in the journal, BMC Psychology, the researchers do believe that involvement in social groups help older people maintain their communication and social skills thus maintaining sharper cognitive functions.

However, in an interview with HealthDay News, a neurosurgeon at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, says Bowling and colleague's study have shortcomings. One of these shortcomings, Dr. Eziel Kornel, sees is those older people who join organizations are said to be a select group. These older people are already intellectually curious and demonstrate sharp mental skills, to begin with.

Dr. Kornel does stress the importance of living a healthy life contribute to a good mental well-being. The doctor also points out that physical activity contributes more to the improvement of mental skills in older people.

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