Social Contact and the Reduction in Dementia Risk

by | Feb 21, 2022

There has been some research done recently to suggest that friendships and social interaction can help to reduce the risk of dementia, including Alzheimers disease.

An article that was published in 2013 detailed a study on the importance of social interaction and a reduction in the risk of dementia.  The study went on over a 6 year period and involved 593 people over the age of 65.  All of these participants didn’t show any signs of dementia at the start of the study.

 The study itself monitored the social interactions the participants had over that 6 year period, and it monitored their congnitive abilities.  The end results suggest that those participants that had higher levels of social interaction with friends and relatives were less likely to go on to develop dementia.

The term ‘social interaction’ relative to the study included activities such as reading the newspaper, trying out new hobbies, and having a generally active approach to daily life, as well as maintaining an active social life.

In The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has also outlined another useful study on social interaction withing the elderly population, which involved people showing no signs of dementia.  Half of the particpants took part in interactive discussion groups and the other half participated in Tai Chi, walking or were involved as part of the control group who received no intervention at all.

The results, which were highly illuminating,  showed that the participants involved in the discussion group had actually improved in their cognitive functioning as well as having increased their brain volumes seen under MRI scans.

This is of significant importance, because the size of the brain has a bearing on the risk of dementia.

It’s the Quality of Social Interactions Matter

It’s not necessarily the number of friends and family one interacts with that seems to reduce the risk of dementia.  It seems that the quality of the interaction is more important – the sense of satisfaction, support and bonding within the relationship that is more important as a factor that reduces the risk of dementia.

Can Social Interaction Prevent MCI from Progressing to Dementia?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) a condition that affects the thinking and memory skills  of those afflicted, and is very often a precursor to an array of dementia conditions. Having said that, some people with MCI will continue with day-to-day functioning with no problems, while some others can decline significantly and develop Alzheimer’s disease

Research has shown that people who have MCI are less at risk of progression to Alzheimer’s disease if they actively participate in social activities . Social activities are defined in the study as including volunteering, being with friends and family, eating out, going to a place of worship, going to the cinema, walking with friends, attending special family occasions and attending organizational functions.

While the studies cannot categorically conclude that social interaction will definitely prevent a cognitive decline in people with MCI, it does suggest  that it significantly reduces the chance of that progression developing into dementia.

Sydenham House is a residential care home in a delightful setting in the village of Blakeney, offering accommodation for up to 19 people.  We help our residents to lead active lives in friendly, comfortable surroundings, involving them in the local community whenever we can.  If you’d like to know more about how we can help the elderly continue to live fulfilled and comfortable lives, then take a look at our website  Or, if you we can be of further assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01594 517 015 – we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about caring for your loved one.