It’s no secret that, if you’re a mother, you love your children–even if they’re all grown up–and want to spend time with them. But here’s yet another reason to spend even more quality family moments together. According to research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, nurturing a strong relationship with your kids could help keep your mind sharp.
In the April 2017 study, researchers from the U.K. analyzed data from over 10,000 men and women, testing the quality of family relationships and the occurrence of dementia over time. First, participants were asked to rate the support of their spouse, children, and other immediate family members on a scale of 1 to 5, with positive results defined as having “reliable, approachable, and understanding relationships” and negative results noted as “experiences of critical, unreliable, and annoying behaviors.”
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Researchers discovered that just a one point increase on the positive side of the scale decreased a person’s risk of dementia by 17 percent. Conversely, going down on the scale by just one point when ranking a positive factor increased a person’s risk of dementia by up to 30 percent. Wow!
So if you weren’t convinced before that you need to spend more time with your kids–or with your aging parents, if you’re still lucky enough to be able to–you should be now.
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It’s important to note, however, that the study was self-reported, which could affect its validity, and that it points to an association—not a causal relationship—between the two factors. Still, as the researchers assert, the study adds to a growing body of knowledge about how profound personal relationships can positively affect people’s cognitive abilities as they age.
“It is not only the quantity of social connections, but the quality of those connections that may be an important factor affecting older people’s cognitive health,” study co-author Mizanur Khondoker said in a recent press release. “This work is a step toward better understanding of the impact of social relationships on dementia risk.”
More quality time with loved ones, for an unexpected health benefit? Sign us up.