The kith and kin link to Alzheimer's
new study has found that having close friends and staying in contact with family members protectsindia Updated: Apr 22, 2006 20:21 IST
A new study has found that having close friends and staying in contact with family members protects older adults against the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr David A Bennett, and his colleagues from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Centre, is the first to examine the relations between social networks and Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
As a part of the study, the researchers not only studied 1,100 elderly people without known dementia, but also carried out brain autopsies and collected post mortem data for analysis from the first 89 people who had died.
Dr Bennett said that the findings suggested that social networks offer a ‘protective reserve’ to elderly people.
“Our findings suggest that social networks are related to something that offers a 'protective reserve' capacity that spares them the clinical manifestations of Alzheimer's disease,” The Lancet quoted him, as saying.
The researchers found that elderly people with a social network made up of a large number of family and friends were more protected against the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s, despite the fact that their brains had the tangles and plaques indicative of the disease, and that for persons without much pathology, social network size had little effect on cognition.
The researchers concluded that healthy and frequent interactions with friends and family have a positive impact on people suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“Identifying factors associated with the ability to tolerate the pathology of Alzheimer's disease has important implications for disease prevention. Previous studies suggest one factor is education.
Now we know that healthy and frequent interactions with friends and family have a positive impact as well,” Dr Bennett added.
The study, is currently posted online in The Lancet Neurology, and will be published in the May print edition.