A new study suggests that remaining in contact with family members and friends can help stave off Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have been the first to study the relationship between social interaction and Alzheimer's.
The study of 1,100 people with dementia involved clinical tests and 21 mental exams each year as well as brain autopsies following death.
The participants were also asked about the amount of contact they maintained with their friends and relatives.
Lead researcher Dr David Bennett commented: "Many elderly people who have the tangles and plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease don't clinically experience cognitive impairment or dementia.
"Our findings suggest that social networks are related to something that offers a 'protective reserve' capacity that spares them the clinical manifestations of Alzheimer's disease."
The findings, published online at the Lancet Neurology site, may pave the way for greater social interaction to be provided for those with Alzheimer's and associated diseases.
There are thought to be around 750,000 people in the UK with dementia.