Good Friendships Strengthen Memory in Older People
“Super ager” is a term used to describe a person who, in his or her 80s and beyond, maintains the cognitive abilities typically seen in a much younger person. A study conducted at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago is the first to look at the social side of super agers.
According to the authors of the study, the key to slower decline in memory and cognitive functioning may be having more satisfying, high-quality relationships. Participants in the study completed a questionnaire called the Ryff Psychological Well-Being Scale, a widely-used test to measure six aspects of psychological well-being: autonomy, positive relations with others, environmental mastery, personal growth, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. Compared to a control group of cognitively average, same-age peers, super agers scored significantly higher in positive relations with others.
Other factors certainly play a role in healthy aging, but maintaining strong social networks seems to have health benefits. Results of this study were published in PLOS ONE.