Asking whether a friend, family member, or patient has someone they can count on to listen when they need to talk can be a telling proposition. Social supports come in all sizes and flavors – including the friendly neighbor who waves hello and the one willing to walk your dog so that you can have a furry companion in your home as you age. It turns out that having someone who genuinely listens to us measurably improves our cognitive resilience.
With an estimated 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, and many more living with slow progressive loss of intellectual abilities for other reasons, it is important that we understand the value that simply listening brings and the positive impacts this exerts on each individual’s ability to maintain their intellectual stamina over time. The impacts start earlier in life than you may expect. For example, those in their 40’s and 50’s who have little access to someone who they can count on to listen when they need to talk have a cognitive age four years older than their peers who do have someone who listens.
Being a listener is a social support unto itself. The listener hears what concerns, interests, or confuses the speaker and this interaction protects brain health in ways that we may not properly value. Providing a sounding board for a loved one or an acquaintance is a simple action that increases their odds of long-term brain health and improved quality of life. Whether cultivating a new social relationship or taking the time to sustain an old one, it is worth the investment required to sustain those bonds.
Explore our website for more caregiver resources and information about ASI programs in Archuleta County, as well as contact information for making reservations at The Community Café for take-out and for Meals on Wheels.