Lending an ear to a friend could help them to live longer, finds study

·2-min read
New research has found that being listened to could help stave off dementia. (Getty Images)
New research has found that being listened to could help stave off dementia. (Getty Images)

While it might seem second nature to allow a friend to confide in you – from relationship problems to work worries – doing so could also actually help them live longer.

A new study has found that being actively listened to by loved ones when you're talking could help stave off conditions like dementia.

According to the research, published in the journal Jama Network Open, such social support can improve cognitive resilience.

This is someone's ability to stay mentally well, even as they age – including having a good memory and finding it possible to juggle several tasks at once.

Read more: These 3-minute exercises will help you live longer

Having low cognitive resilience has, however, been linked to dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other disorders that affect brain function.

The former condition affects 850,000 people in the UK, and is one of the leading causes of death each year.

As such, scientists believe that you could be doing someone a huge service simpy by allowing them to vent to you.

Equally, you can help look after your own future brain health by surrounding yourself with friends and family who will likewise lend an ear.

Read more: Rich people live nine 'healthy' years longer

In order to reach their findings, the researchers asked more than 2,000 participants to record how often they experienced listening, advice, love or affection, emotional support and sufficient contact.

Using MRI scans, they discovered that those who received supportive listening had higher cognitive resilience.

Other science-backed ways to stave of dementia and Alzheimer's disease include eating a healthy diet, stopping smoking and being physically active.

Of the latter, a recent study by Glasgow Caledonian University found that just three minutes of “moderate exercise” an hour can reduce your risk of an early death by a third.

Watch: How many hours should you sleep?

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