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Fun and Social Lifestyle and Mindset Help Prevent Dementia
By Daniel H. Rasolt
Posted: Monday, January 19, 2009
(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- Being anxious,
stressed and introverted, may well increase the risk of future dementia,
according to a recent study. Researchers have recently found that more relaxed,
social individuals, develop dementia less often when elderly, than their
stressed-out, antisocial counterparts.
To be easily distressed
(neuroticism), is an extremely common trait, and of course many people have
little desire, or motivation, to socialize. Taken together, or individually (for
neuroticism in particular), these two traits translated to a marked increase in
resulting dementia, in the 506 individuals surveyed and monitored during the
These 506 participants were already elderly at the
commencement of the study, but none possessed diagnosed dementia. Each
individual was thoroughly surveyed concerning lifestyle, personality and social
habits. The questions, while extensive, focused on two major categories;
neuroticism and introversion (said to be characterized by being "reserved and
introspective"). The opposite of neuroticism, which was diagnosed as being most
harmful for the aging brain, is most generally being uneasily phased and
generally relaxed. The opposite of an introvert is of course and extrovert, who
is most often social and outgoing.
Over the six years of the study, 144
of the participants developed some form of dementia. Taken separately, it was
found that relaxed individuals (though still allowed to be introverted), were
approximately 50% less likely to develop dementia than neurotic individuals.
Similarly, extroverted individuals, if also relaxed, were 50% less likely to
develop dementia, than extroverts demonstrating neuroticism. It's noted that
extroverts were much more likely to have calm personalities than introverts,
though this was far from a universal conclusion.
This study is not
definitive, but it does identify a potentially natural preventative treatment
for dementia; lifestyle change. While the ancient saying, "you can't teach an
old dog new tricks," may hold a lot of sway here, in that introverted, neurotic
elderly individuals aren't likely to one day hit the dance floor in their quest
for a happy-go-lucky life, making small changes could be very effective. And the
results likely extend to younger individuals as well, strongly suggesting that
in common stressful situations, such as in the workplace, it is best to stay as
calm as possible.
Put slightly more medically, "In the past, studies have shown
that chronic distress can affect parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus,
possibly leading to dementia, but our findings suggest that having a calm and
outgoing personality in combination with a socially active lifestyle may
decrease the risk of developing dementia even further," says Dr. Hui-Xin Wang.
This is one of the first studies to suggest that a large part of prevention for
dementia resides in personal lifestyle choices.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Wang, Hui-Xin. Seroka, Rachel. Neurology news release. January 2009.
Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.
Copyright © 2009 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.
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