It comes as no surprise that engaging in multiple activities one at a time, keeps us from unburdening everyday stress. In fact, a new research has shown that enjoying an active social life such as by volunteering, learning new things and being part of a community protected one against dementia.
US scientists believe that if one keeps himself/herself busy, he/she is not only protected against dementia but is also assisted in staving off mobility issues that plague elderly people. Associate professor of behavioral sciences at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, Dr Patricia Boyle, said that positive mental outlook can help in improving one’s physical health.
She said “Mental health in certain positive psychological factors such as having a purpose in life, are emerging as very potent determinants of health outcomes. Clinicians need to be aware of patients’ mental state and encourage behaviours that will help increase purpose and other positive emotional states.”
Her research, which was published in the journal Stroke has found that to have a strong sense that one’s life has meaning as well as direction can make one less likely to develop brain damage incurred by blockages in the flow of blood.
When the blockage develops, it triggers stroke or damage to the brain’s tissue.
According to many experts, the damaged tissue, which is called infarcts, contributes to dementia, disability, mobility problems and death. The researchers had looked at 453 people of an average age of 84 years, who had annual physical as well as psychological evaluations until they had died at the average age of 90.
None of the participants knew about dementia when they started the study and all of them had agreed to donate their organ at death. Among these participants, 114 had been diagnosed with stroke. When the research team had analysed results of the post mortem examinations, they found that twice that number -228- had infarcts.
On the flipside, those people who had reported to have a strong as well as varied social life and possessed an established sense of purpose were found to be about 44 percent less likely to have large of damage triggered by infarcts that may lead to dementia.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Lei Yu, said, “Purpose in life differs for everyone and it is important to be thoughtful about what motivates you so you can engage in rewarding behaviours.” He is also the assistant professor of neurological sciences at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Centre.
Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said, “This study didn’t look at dementia or at thinking and memory but research has shown that interruptions in blood flow in the brain can contribute to dementia”.
Some other studies have also said that keeping oneself mentally active can reduce the risk of dementia.
“While the new findings have suggested a link between a strong sense of purpose in life and lower likelihood of damage from reduced blood flow in the brain, it is not possible to separate cause and effect with this type of research and we don’t know whether other factors could have had an impact on these results.”
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