Study Proposes that Group Activity May be Beneficial to Brain Health in Seniors
“The More the Merrier”
Group Activity Showed better Brain Function in Aging Mice
A study published May 31, 2018, in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience carried out by researchers at Ohio State University showed that aging female mice in groups of 7 in a cage fared neurologically better with memory performance than when there were only two aging female mice in a cage. The cages were the same size for both groups and the mice were kept there for three months. Also, the aged mice in the larger group of female mice showed less inflammation on their brains (neuroinflammation) than on the brains of the two female mice in a cage.
What Sustains Hippocampal Function in Aging Humans
Aging can lead to a decline in memory function in the hippocampus of the brain in both humans and mice.
According to the researchers, the following three activities help to prevent deterioration of hippocampal function in humans. The hippocampus is the part of the brain associated with proper memory function.
- Physical Exercise
- Cognitive Stimulation to help stimulate memory, concentration and thinking
The positive benefits of physical exercise and cognitive stimulation have been proven with studies. While it is known that socialization is good for the brain and that seniors who live in isolation have more physical and mental illnesses including dementia, it is not known if the senior, possibly because of beginning dementia deliberately breaks off contact with friends and family members. In other words it is possible that the dementia, itself, leads to isolation rather than the isolation leads to dementia. Please see more about isolation and risk for diseases in our earlier blog from April 19, 2018.
Further Research is Necessary
The researchers headed by Dr. Elizabeth D. Kirby stress that further research is necessary and should also include male mice. For this experiment only female mice were used because males are sometimes very aggressive. However, further research could test how the results would be if a male was paired with a female or how males would act together and how this would affect cognitive function. Also, further research is needed to prove that it was really the socialization rather than getting more exercise that was beneficial for the mice in the study. For instance, even though the cages were the same size where there were more mice in the cage, there was more running around.
Group Activities for Humans may also Preserve Brain Health
In summarizing their results, the researchers suggest that they could also apply to human seniors in group activities, especially group exercise programs at senior residential centers, as physical exercise and socialization are good for preserving cognitive function in aging brains.
Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Syracuse NY
If you are looking for a good solution for your aging loved one, consider a residential rehabilitation care facility like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York that offers the chance to participate in group physical exercises and also provides a very dynamic recreational program that leads to a lot of socialization and a broader social network.
Since having a wider social network may be beneficial for preserving memory function, it might be a good idea to consider moving your loved one to a senior residential rehabilitation and nursing center.
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