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Does Social Circle Size Affect Mental Health?

Location : Home Office 
Socialcircle ENRICHED

With friends and family come laughter, fun and memorable experiences. These special people in our lives can often make a normal day extraordinary. We know how valuable a supportive social environment is for both physical and mental health, and sizes of social circles vary as much as the people who comprise them. Dementia specialists, however, were intrigued at what role the size of an elderly woman’s social network played in possibly protecting her against Alzheimer’s.

In 2001 a study began that involved over 2,200 women aged 78 or older and classified as dementia-free. From 2002-2005, each of them completed at least one additional interview, and the information was adjusted accordingly for age at the start of the study, health conditions, cognitive status, education and hormone use.

During the follow-up interviews, over 265 cases of dementia were found. When comparing the social webs behind these participants, it was discovered that those with smaller networks had more incidents of dementia than those with larger networks.

The importance of maintaining this sociality for both men and women — with family, with friends, with colleagues—is a large part of Silverado’s philosophy and a pillar in the new Nexus at Silverado social program. Whether as a casual part of everyday interaction or in a more structured setting such as Nexus, the most mentally supportive and worthwhile connections come from just that: dedicated social interaction with a close group as well as a more extensive community. Providing the best possible care takes priority, and part of that mission is the fostering of and dedication to the social relationships of our residents within the Silverado community.

Contact your local Silverado to learn more or visit our web page:

Source: Crooks VC, Lubben J, Petitti DB, et al.” Social network, cognitive function, and dementia incidence among elderly women”. Am J Public Health 2008; 98(7):1221-1227.

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