How a Healthy Relationship with Your Spouse Can Reduce the Risk of Dementia

A recent study shows positive support from your spouse, partner, or close family member can reduce your risk of dementia. Maybe even up to 17 percent.

Dementia is both well-known and puzzling. It can be caused when the brain is damaged by Alzheimer’s disease or by a series of strokes.

The symptoms start off minor, but they can become severe and wreak havoc on your daily life.

Most dementia cannot be cured. But treatments, such as advice, support, therapy, and activities provide a better quality of life.

While a healthy marriage probably won’t prevent dementia, it can help. Specifically, relationships that are reliable, approachable, and understanding are what reduces your risk.

And a relationship that’s all those things (and more) starts with communicating, better.

Don’t click back to Facebook just yet! Because, whether you’ve been married for 5, 15, or 30 years, the way you communicate with your spouse can always be improved. Here are a few tips you can try today.

Listen…over and over again

Do you feel bored when your husband gives you a play-by-play of his golf game that day? Or when your wife goes on (and on) about a project she’s tackling at work?

You might know all the details–or think it’s the same old story in a different package–but showing interest in your partner’s day is a way of getting closer. While it might not (directly) benefit you, it does help your spouse.

You’re sharing time, space, and love. Even if you know the answer, ask questions to further the conversation or clarify a specific detail. “Wait. Could you show me the new technique you used?”

If you need to interrupt, ask permission first, “Sorry. Can I ask you a question about your client real quick?”

Even a simple task like creating a grocery list together can strengthen your communication and produce feelings of well-being.

Try mirroring

If you feel a disagreement coming on, apply the “mirroring” technique.

Listen to your partner’s side of the argument. Then, start with the words, “So what I think I hear you say is….”. Repeat what the other person said (or what you heard in your own words).

Often what you heard is not what was meant–especially in text.

Mirroring lets the speaker know if you heard them correctly or if they didn’t communicate their meaning with clarity. If it was wrong, give them an opportunity to re-explain. You can learn more about mirroring here. But, don’t overuse this technique as it can be disruptive and tiring.

Speak with their love language

Gary Chapman came up with the idea that men and women have five love languages: affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. It’s important to know which language speaks to you and your partner.

Not sure what yours is? Pour a glass of wine (or a cup of tea) for you and your spouse. Then, you can both take the test here.

Not feeling so sharp this week? Read our tips on how to boost your memory in this blog post.