Socializing With Peers Is Good Medicine For The Aging Brain, Experts Say

May 20, 2021, 5:05 PM | Updated: May 22, 2021, 7:21 pm

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah – At first glance, it is a meeting of the Pet-lovers Club, 20 seniors gathered to discuss the ups and downs of pet ownership.

“Appreciate all of you bringing photos of your fur babies,” said Penny Cherrix, who conducted the meeting. She lives at Summit Vista, a retirement community in Taylorsville.

But look closer; it is much more.

“It’s been wonderful to talk to people. We were in our apartment just pretty isolated for quite a while,” said Sharon White, who also lives at Summit Vista. She had her 26-year-old cockatoo perched on her hand.

These seniors are feeding their souls and building their brains.

“By interacting with other people, we’re actually working a lot of different cognitive muscles or thinking muscles within the brain,” said Dr. Kevin Duff, a clinical neuropsychologist with University of Utah Health.

Socializing helps cognition and memory.

“When we interact with a friend, and we learn new information about them or have to recall information that we knew about them from an earlier conversation, that activates memory,” Duff said.

Flexing problem-solving muscles with friends is especially important to those in the early stages of dementia and all seniors, he said.

“Having those opportunities, I think are really important in them maintaining and maybe even gaining back some of the things that may have been lost during COVID,” Duff said.

Socializing also reduces anxiety and depression.

You don’t have to tell Ron Padawer, also a resident at Summit Vista.

“Excellent! This is really super positive,” he said.

Karen Gauthier, who also lives there, said, “Oh my gosh, it’s so nice. Just to not have the masks and see everybody and have dinner with them.”

Doctors said the benefits of social interaction among vaccinated seniors far outweigh the risk.

“Ninety-five percent of us have had both of our vaccinations, so everybody feels fairly safe,” Cherrix said.

And while old friends like Cherrix’s dogs are gold, make room for a silver lining.

“I’m just finding new friends, and that’s really been wonderful,” she said.

Experts said family members and friends can help seniors by encouraging them to engage with their community.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Positively 50+

At 68, Utah woman Mary Crafts is at her healthiest – and she didn't start her healthy eating jour...
Shara Park & Madison Swenson, KSL TV

Utah woman encourages older adults to cook healthy

By following a few simple tips, older Utahns can learn to cook and eat more nutritiously.
17 days ago
Amanda Lambert started planning early in her career for retirement and has found it’s really payi...
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Women trail men in retirement savings, experts say

As more women break barriers in the workplace, there is still one area they fall far behind: saving for retirement. An expert explains how to bridge the gap.
2 months ago
Retiree Sarah Voigt is stretching her fixed income with coupons and sales as inflation soars. (KSL ...
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Retirees get creative with budgeting as inflation soars

Record inflation, spikes in gas, groceries, and utility costs are bad news for Utah retirees. A fixed income can make it much harder to cope.
3 months ago
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Web-based yoga practice a great option for seniors during omicron surge

For older Utahns stuck at home, online exercise classes are a healthy option and a way to feel connected if you're taking extra precautions right now.
4 months ago
Eberhard Lehnardt, age 85, puts on his white coat as part of his honorary acceptance. (KSL TV)...
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Never giving up on dreams: 85-year-old Holocaust refugee applies to medical school 

A unique student has applied for admission to the University of Utah medical school. He stood out not because of his scores on the entrance exams, but because of the year he took them. He’s had every reason to believe his dream will come true. 
5 months ago
Volunteers with AARP write 250 cards to go with Giving Tree gifts for homebound seniors. (KSL TV) ...
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Simple gesture brings Christmas joy to isolated seniors 

Thousands of Utah's senior citizens are facing the holiday season alone and isolated this year. But a simple act of kindness can make a big difference
5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
Socializing With Peers Is Good Medicine For The Aging Brain, Experts Say