Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Balance

Font Size

Social Ties May Help Cut Dementia Risk

Study of Elderly Women Shows Health Benefit of Friendship and Family Ties
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 20, 2008 -- Elderly women who maintain close friendships and strong family ties are less likely to develop dementia than women who are less sociable, according to new research funded by the National Institute on Aging.

The latest findings, published in this week's American Journal of Public Health, add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that strong social networks can protect against dementia.

Previous studies have showed that adults who live alone or who have no social ties have a much higher risk for cognitive impairment than those who have more social connections.

Dementia is a decline in cognitive (thinking) function that greatly affects one's day-to-day activities and relationships. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia.

For the current study, researchers at the department of research and evaluation at Kaiser Permanente Southern California interviewed more than 2,000 women aged 78 and older by telephone and reviewed their medical records. The women were dementia-free in 2001 and completed at least one follow-up interview in 2002 through 2005.

The women answered questions regarding their social networks, such as how often they saw or heard from their family or friends, who they could call on for help or private matters, and how often they had visits, phone calls, and emails from their social contacts.

The researchers discovered that women with large social networks were 26% less likely to develop dementia during the study period, although the study didn't establish a direct link.

"Our findings suggest that larger social networks have a protective influence on cognitive function among elderly women. Future studies should explore which aspects of social networks are associated with dementia risk and maintenance of cognitive health," the researchers write in the journal report.

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
Take your medication
Hand appearing to hold the sun
Hungover man
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Woman worn out on couch
Happy and sad faces
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
laughing family