Science has confirmed what we’ve always known in our guts: spending time with Mama is good for her mental health. (Ours too.)
Just in time for Mother’s Day, the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published research showing that maintaining close relationships with your parents reduces the risk of them developing dementia. And that goes for dear old Dad too!
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In the study, UK researchers analyzed data collected from more than 10,000 men and women over the course of 10 years. Participants were asked to rate both positive support and negative social experiences with their spouses, children and other immediate family members on a scale of 1 to 4. Negative support was defined as "experiences of critical, unreliable and annoying behaviors," while positive was defined as "having a reliable, approachable and understanding relationship."
What they found was astounding. An increase of just one point on the positive support scale corresponded to a 17% decrease in that patient’s risk of developing dementia. Alternatively, a decrease of a single point on the negative support scale increased the patient’s risk of developing dementia by as much as 31%.
“It is well known that having a rich network of close relationships, including being married and having adult children, is related to a reduced risk of cognitive decline and developing dementia,” study co-author Mizanur Khondoker, PhD, said in a press release about the findings.
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“However, a relationship or social connection that does not work well can be a source of intense interpersonal stress, which may have a negative impact on both physical and mental health of older adults,” he added. “It is not only the quantity of social connections, but the quality of those connections may be an important factor affecting older people’s cognitive health.”
So if you owe Mama a phone call, don’t delay—she needs you.