HealthDay News — More frequent social contact during midlife is associated with a lower dementia risk and better cognitive trajectories, according to a study published online Aug. 2 in PLOS Medicine.

Andrew Sommerlad, MBBS, PhD, from University College London, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of employees in London civil service departments who were aged 35 to 55 years at baseline in 1985 to 1988 and followed to 2017. The authors assessed the correlation between social contact (measured 6 times) and dementia and cognition. Data on social contact were provided by 10,228 individuals.

The researchers found that more frequent social contact at age 60 years correlated with a reduced risk for dementia; the effect size of the correlation of social contact with dementia was similar at age 50 or 70 years but not statistically significant. The driver of the correlation between social contact and incident dementia was contact with friends; no link was seen for relatives. There was a correlation for more frequent social contact during midlife with an improved subsequent cognitive trajectory during 15 years of follow-up.

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“These findings may suggest that more frequent social contact during early and midlife builds a cognitive reserve that is maintained and confers later protection,” the authors write.

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