Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Does Personality Affect Dementia?


A new study published in Neurology suggests that the risk of developing dementia might be influenced by a person's underlying personality. People who are active, social and calm may stay mentally sharp longer than people who don't have those traits.

The Researchers from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden used a questionnaire to determine personality traits in 506 healthy older subjects. The participants were followed for 6 years and were asked about how they spent their leisure time, the richness of their social network and how optimistic they were and how they handled stress and isolation.

They found that people who were not socially active, but were calm and relaxed were 50% less likely to develop dementia than those who were isolated and distressed. People who were extroverts (social), active, optimistic and calm had the best outcomes and lowest dementia of all.

So what is the take home message here? If you are naturally neurotic and anxious, making sure you have an active, social life might buffer the effects and help protect your brain. If you are naturally a loner...try to be calm and optimistic about life. It seems the best way to age gracefully is to be social, active, stress-free and calm.

At least that is true if you live in Sweden.

12 comments:

Wendy O said...

I used to volunteer at a nursing home, and I was around a lot of people with dimentia. Suprisingly, a lot of these people lived very interesting lives. One man worked for the CIA, and another worked with Albert Einstein. My great grandma had dementia, and she lived an amazing life too. So I am convinced there is something beyond personality that causes this to happen. I was reading somewhere about aluminum build up in the brain as a possible cause for Alzheimers.

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Wow if dementia is caused by a person's underlying personality it means I'm a candidate to get that dementia, what I like to know is if there's something to prevent it.m10m

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