Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Being socially active in your 50s and 60s is linked to lower risk of illness later in life

5 August 2019

A new Whitehall II paper has reported that being socially active in your 50s and 60s may help lower the risk of developing dementia in later life. 

Group of old friends

The study showed that seeing friends almost daily at age 60 was associated with a 12% lower likelihood of developing dementia in later life, compared with those who saw only one or two friends every few months. 

Dr Andrew Sommerlad, lead author on the paper, said: “The results of this study add another potential route by which people can take steps within their life to improve their brain health and reduce their risk of dementia”.

The paper has been published in Plos Medicine:

Association of social contact with dementia and cognition: 28-year follow-up of the Whitehall II cohort study.

Some links to media coverage stories:

The Guardian: Healthy social life could ward off dementia, study shows

The Telegraph:  How a healthy social life in middle age could protect against dementia

The Independent: Seeing friends regularly lowers dementia risk, study suggests