Meaningful Relationships Improve Brain Health - Great Stories from Walter Mayer

Meaningful Relationships Improve Brain Health - Great Stories from Walter Mayer

Walter Mayer considers himself fortunate to have made significant social connections after retiring from a successful career as an architect and specifications writer.

He discovered a creative outlet and kindred spirits at the Soul Food Poetry Group. Each week, he travels from his home to Baycrest to discuss the work of established writers as well as poems written by members of the group.

Mayer, who grew up in Shanghai and learned several languages there, also appreciates that some members of the group studied Latin in the past, and can interpret obscure references by some of the writers they study. “I have never been associated with a group that is so talented, friendly, warm and quite frankly, well educated.

Why Socializing Matters

There’s no question that exercise and proper nutrition are good for overall health and contribute to the likelihood of living to a ripe old age. Mayer has checked off another box that can make a difference – social engagement. Dr. Nicole Anderson, a senior scientist and clinical neuropsychologist at Baycrest, says research is showing that people who stay socially engaged have less cognitive decline and lower risk of dementia.

The quality of the social engagement is a factor too. Anderson, who has seen patients at the Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic, says people have to feel supported by their social networks in order to get the benefits. “It’s not OK just to know lots of people if you don’t feel really connected to them.” In addition, how socially connected you are in youth and middle age predicts later cognitive and brain health, she says.

“Social engagement is important at all stages in life,” Anderson says, while acknowledging that it might be easier before retirement when contact with others is built into the day through work and school.

Socializing Solves Loneliness and Stops Depression

These days, many people spend time online and may not see friends face-to-face as often, or they entertain themselves with marathon viewings of favourite shows. A small U.S. study looked at 18-to-29-year-olds and found that the more lonely and depressed they were, the more likely they were to binge-watch TV to escape negative feelings.

This may become a growing concern for older adults in the future. Baycrest social worker Renee Climans says even now, many older people living in the community who seek her help and advice are lonely. “Being able to provide people who are isolated with opportunities to engage with others outside the home can be as helpful as medication for some people,” Climans says.

She facilitates supportive counselling groups for family members of people with dementia and mild cognitive impairment, and finds that people build relationships that extend beyond their time in the group. Recently, after one group ended, the members continued to meet online. They also get together in person – at their homes, coffee shops and other places to discuss similar life situations.

Dr. Anderson says the beauty of social engagement is that you can seek out groups and activities you like. “You don’t have to do any one kind of thing to enjoy these brain health benefits. You can really tailor it to your interests.

The Increase in Lonely People

MORE LONELY PEOPLE? The number of one-person households rose 10.4 per cent from 2006 to 2011 – to more than 3.6 million, according to Statistics Canada. Over the same period, the number of lone-parent households rose 7.8 per cent.

Give to Others and Yourself

A gift to someone else – and you! Volunteering is another great way to stay connected. A qualitative, comprehensive review of 74 different studies, led by Dr. Anderson, found that volunteering is associated with less depression, a better sense of quality of life, reports of better physical health, fewer functional limitations, and longer life compared to people who don’t volunteer

Ways to Connect Socially

WAYS TO STAY SOCIALLY CONNECTED: 1. Sign up for a class 2. Take a group course to learn a language 3. Volunteer 4. Join a discussion group, book club or art class 5. Take a group fitness class 6. Go for walks with friends 7. Join a sports team 8. Play cards or board games

Your Well-Being Is Safe at The Aspen Tree The Forestias Operated by Baycrest Because It Cares About Every Aspect of Wellness

Baycrest supports activities to boost your well-being because social interaction benefits us at every age. Doing activities you enjoy with people who share the same interests develops meaningful relationships.

Socializing is as good as medicine for maintaining physical and mental health at 50+. Group activities such as volunteering, learning a language, watching a movie, or talking a walk with friends enhance each day as an older adult, bringing happiness and good health at the same time.

Financial security is also crucial as an older adult and fun activities also include learning about nutrition to meets the needs of people aged 50+. The Aspen Tree offers health insurance of up 40 million baht until the age of 99* to give you peace of mind to live life to the full.

This concept inspires The Aspen Tree at The Forestias, designed and developed with research leaders and Canada’s world-leading Baycrest Crest to meet every need of older adults. You can live in a multigeneration community in The Forestias with comprehensive health and care (Holistic Lifetime Care). Full facilities and the Health & Wellness program enhance your lifestyle with activities such as yoga, swimming, singing, playing music, meditation, outdoor activities, hydrotherapy, and much more to keep your body, mind, and brain in great shape.

The Aspen Tree at The Forestias also has a Health & Brain Center to safeguard your health and wellness. The center’s experts can delay the onset of dementia and provide care to overcome brain and memory problems. A team of healthcare specialists is on hand 24 hours a day to keep you safe and well in every aspect.

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PUBLISHED : 7 months ago

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