A laid back personality can prevent stress from taking its toll on an older adult. Now there is evidence that relaxed personalities may have a lower risk of dementia, too. Make sure your senior is doing everything he or she can to stay active, even if it means hiring companionship help.
Q. I’m curious. Are there any studies about how temperament impacts aging issues such as dementia?
A number of studies have pointed to the fact that being socially active is a positive lifestyle for seniors and one that seems to lessen the impact of dementia. Recent research has revealed that those who are active and not easily stressed seem to enjoy an added benefit. It even works for those not so socially involved.
The study found that people who were socially isolated or inactive but relaxed had a 50 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared with people who were isolated and prone to distress. The dementia risk was also 50 percent lower for people who were outgoing and relaxed compared with those who were outgoing but prone to distress.
“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 relaxed and outgoing personality in combination with an active lifestyle may decrease the risk of developing dementia even further,” says study leader Dr Hui-Xin Wang, at the Aging Research Centre (ARC) in Stockholm.
“The good news is, lifestyle factors can be modified as opposed to genetic factors which cannot be controlled. But these are early results, so how exactly mental attitude influences risk for dementia is not clear,” said Wang, whose research was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
It stands to reason that seniors can reduce their risk by guarding against isolation and making companionship a priority. If you are a family caregiver to an older loved one, do everything you can to ensure that your senior is able to get out and enjoy the company of people of all ages. If your senior is homebound then consider hiring a companionship service such as Home Instead Senior Care®.
A Home Instead CAREGiverSM can help older adults by providing companionship from a few hours up to 24 hours a day, on weekends and even holidays. CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured, and many are seniors, too.
For more information about this study, log on to http://ki.se/ki/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=130&a=67778&l=en&newsdep=130.