The next time your spouse is in the dog house remember this: he or she may be helping lower your risk of developing dementia.
According to several studies, married people have a reduced risk of dementia compared to unmarried people. Happy marriages have been shown to provide significant protective effects against age-related cognitive impairment.
Why is your better half good for your brain health?
The daily social interaction that comes from being married can help improve your brain’s “cognitive reserve”. Cognitive reserve is your brain’s ability to adapt and respond to changes and resist damage. Being married may also result in additional relationships for each person and fewer poor lifestyle habits, such as smoking, which also can help reduce the risk for dementia.
If you’re flying solo, don’t despair
Even if you’re not married or are widowed, there is plenty you can do to improve and protect your brain health. Staying socially connected is important so make an effort to spend quality time with family and friends. Enjoy the comforting companionship of a pet. Volunteer. Not only will this contribute to your community; it may be a wonderful opportunity to meet a new “special” someone. Build cognitive reserve by continuing to learn, embracing new activities, and developing new skills and interests. How? Take a class, learn a musical instrument or study a new language!
Of course, keeping your body healthy through proper nutrition, exercise, rest and relaxation is important as well. For more information on keeping your brain healthy, review the six pillars of brain health at healthybrains.org.
Meet Our Brain Health Champions
“Doing it Right” Spotlight : Social
Meet Ulla and John.
Age: 89 years old.
BHI Score: 78
Motto: “See the world … together.”
Their key to keeping sharp?
Marriage and Travel
Married over 63 years, Ulla and John attribute their good health and well-being from exploring the globe with a loving, lifelong partner.
Ulla and John vowed to make travel a top priority early in their marriage. Their well-worn passports and 6 decades of travel journals and photos, document they’ve kept their promise.
John, almost 90 now, admits “it’s getting a little tougher.” This year alone, however, they plan to cruise the fjords of Norway, take a transatlantic voyage from the UK to Quebec plus visit friends and family throughout Scandinavia and Europe. Just one typical year in a lifetime of shared exploration – an itinerary that would make even Magellan proud!
Ulla and John believe the planning, anticipation and learning experience associated with travel helps keep their brains (and bodies) active. Embracing today’s travel technology tools like email, online bookings, GPS and paperless tickets- albeit sometimes frustrating -challenges them to learn new things and “keep up with the times.”
“We love travel,” says Ulla. “It creates opportunities for us to learn, discover new cultures and motivates us to keep moving.” Ulla and John inspire their peers and family to celebrate life and keep thriving through the joy of shared travel. Bon Voyage Ulla and John!