Could love and laughter really be the best medicine? A study suggests reaching out to friends could help combat depression and improve cognitive abilities, particularly as we get older.
It has been revealed spending time with your close companions could have genuine health benefits.
The research, conducted at Northwestern University, studied the health and happiness of a group of 50 elderly people. It was found those with the busiest social schedules were the healthiest.
Out of the 50 participants, 31 of those studied were ‘Super Agers’. This term describes people over the age of 80 who have the same cognitive abilities of those much younger than them. Super Agers have become increasingly intriguing to scientists in their attempt to understand what defines them from the rest of society. The other 19 of those studied had an average cognitive ability which reflected their age.
The study was based on a questionnaire which allowed the participants to reveal information about their psychological happiness.
Once the information was analysed, it was revealed the Super Agers were more prone to having strong, loving friendships in comparison to their fellow participants.
It was found the positive relationships held by the Super Agers helped explain their enhanced cognitive ability and that such friendships help reduce mental health issues such as dementia.
Keeping up with friends and ensuring you have social occasions written in the calendar is perhaps more challenging as you get older, but the results of doing so can be incredibly beneficial.
It is believed depression can be seen as a negative loop, and as people become more depressed, their willingness to socialise decreases. Socialising however can help get people out of their depressive state and the better they become, the more likely they are going to want to socialise.
Maintaining friendships and remaining sociable in old age is not just for pleasure and can be seen as a major health advantage.
Giving a friend a hug or sending a supportive message perhaps has more benefits than we think!