The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) met at Age UK in London to translate scientific evidence on social engagement and brain health into actionable recommendations for the public. GCBH issue experts from around the world came to consensus on a definition for social engagement, an explanation of social connections and networks, and the evidence on the relationship between social engagement and better brain health as we age. The GCBH outlined 15 recommendations to maintain relationships as we age and to build new connections throughout life. These recommendations offer a variety of ways to stay engaged relevant to people from all over the world at any age. The report was refined over several months within the GCBH, reviewed by other experts in the field and finalized by the GCBH Governance Committee.
The report emphasizes that positive relationships, maintained over your lifetime, support well-being and brain health. The report explores current scientific research on the effect social engagement has on brain health. It discusses numerous aspects of social engagement including digital connections, purpose in life, pets as companions, close personal or romantic relationships, and sense of community. It also identifies knowledge gaps. To complement the GCBH’s report, AARP surveyed more than 3,800 adults age 40 and older to understand the factors that influence social engagement, isolation and loneliness and how these issues relate to people’s brain health and mental well-being as they age. Survey results can be found in the section below.
As a result of these deliberations, the GCBH Governance Committee approved the following recommendations on social engagement and brain health for people as they age.
To find out more about how social connections affect your brain health, see this article by Beth Howard.
Download the Recommendations
Four in ten (37 percent) of adults surveyed lacked social connections and reported worse brain health. Learn more
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As we age, feeling connected + purpose in life = better brain health. Click here for English, Spanish, French, Chinese and Arabic translations
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MICHELLE CARLSON, PH.D
Johns Hopkins University
ALAN GOW, PH.D.
Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom
HOWARD LITWIN, PH.D.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
ERIC KIM, PH.D
KATSUNORI KONDO, M.D., PH.D.
Chiba University and National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Japan
CHENGXUAN QIU, PH.D.
Karolinska Institute, Sweden
VERA ROOS, MA, DPHIL
North West University, South Africa
Global Council on Brain Health. The Brain and Social Connectedness: GCBH Recommendations on Social Engagement and Brain Health. Washington, DC: Global Council on Brain Health, February 2017. https://doi.org/10.26419/pia.00015.001
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