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Personality traits that may reduce your risk of dementia

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Can your personality affect your memory?

A recent meta-analysis was published in Alzheimer’s and dementiaThe Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association found an association between certain personality traits and risk of dementia. The data was made up of eight small studies, involving a total of 44,531 people aged 49 to 81 years. Of the group, 1,703 people developed dementia. Participants took personality assessments and underwent brain tests after death.

Researchers compared dementia diagnoses “Big Five” Personality Traits, which are Agreeableness, Openness, Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism. They also compared the diagnoses of people who had either positive affect (a personality that leans more toward positive qualities like happiness, enthusiasm, and confidence) and negative affect (someone who had more emotions like anger, nervousness, and fear). Are).

People who had higher levels of neuroticism and those with negative affect “had a higher risk of developing dementia in the long run,” he said. Dr. Joel SalinasClinical Assistant Professor of Neurology and Chief Medical Officer at NYU Langone Health isaac healthWho was not associated with the study.

“And then people who had lower levels of conscientiousness, extraversion, and that positive affect…were also tied to increased risk,” Salinas said.

In contrast, researchers found that people with positive affect or personality traits including extroversion and conscientiousness had a lower risk of developing the disease. People who are extroverted have a stronger social life and get energy from being around others; A person who is conscientious is considered responsible, organized, and goal-oriented.

It’s worth noting, Salinas said, that researchers have found an association between personality traits and the risk of being diagnosed with dementia, but no clear link between personality and evidence of the underlying disease. So while studies suggest the two may be correlated, researchers still don’t know whether personality type is a direct cause of dementia.

“This does not (mean) that these links do not exist, it just means that either the study was unable to find it – because the amount of information available for this part of the study was limited – or that some other factor This suggests that more people were at risk for dementia,” Salinas said.

According to Dr. Riddhi PatiraThe study measured clinical diagnoses of dementia, but the type of dementia is unclear — whether it’s Alzheimer’s or general memory problems, said the leader of the Frontotemporal Dementia Consortium at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, who was not affiliated with the study. , For example.

Another limitation, Salinas said, is that the second part of the study, which measured changes in participants’ brains, relied on data from fewer participants than the first part of the study.

People with personality traits may have certain risk factors associated with a higher dementia diagnosis.

Patira said there may be some mediators associated with neuroticism or negative affect that put people at risk for dementia. For example, people who are neurotic or anxious often have more trouble sleeping than people who are not neurotic or anxious.

“And sleep is important for some drainage in the brain…it’s important for reducing inflammation and Alzheimer’s risk,” Patira explained. “So, there may be something to it that future studies can indicate.”

Additionally, when compared to happy people or positive or extroverted people, those with more negative affect are more likely to be isolated and have higher rates of depression, Patira said. Depression can affect lifestyle habits like diet and exercise, which are important for lower dementia risk.

Additionally, Salinas said, people with more negative affect or anxiety may not perform as well on the cognitive tests that doctors use to diagnose dementia. This could have led to more diagnoses based on those results. (Think about it: When you’re feeling anxious or negative before any type of test or assessment, you probably won’t perform as well as you would if you were calm and happy.)

Katherine McQueen via Getty Images

While a negative temperament was associated with a higher diagnosis of dementia, the study did not find brain changes associated with dementia in these patients.

If you have a more neurotic or negative affective personality, don’t panic.

As mentioned above, this study found no direct causal link between personality and evidence of underlying illness, so don’t panic if it has any negative effects on you or makes you neurotic.

Instead, you can take this study as a learning opportunity. Patira suggests that you take extra care of yourself by exercising, getting good sleep, and eating a nutritious diet.

That said, she also said that it requires effort and discipline, and it’s not easy for everyone (you can’t train yourself to sleep better). If you find you’re still struggling, reach out to a doctor or therapist for additional support.

Overall, some lifestyle modifications may also help reduce your risk of dementia.

According to Salinas, “There are a lot of things you can do to help reduce your risk.” Healthy lifestyle habits “Just put the odds in your favor that you won’t develop these conditions, or if you do develop it, you’ll develop it later than you otherwise might.”

To reduce your risk, Salinas said you should:

  • Exercise regularly. “I can’t really understand (why) people who engage in regular physical activity have a lower risk of all kinds of conditions, and this is one of them. So of all the things you can do, it’s really going to take spending as much time and effort as possible,” Salinas said.
  • Eat a healthy diet. having a Mediterranean diet Proven to help combat dementia risk,
  • Enough Sleep. “If you have any issues with any sleep disorders, like obstructive sleep apnea… get treatment,” Salinas stressed.
  • Take care of your heart and blood vessels. It is important to manage conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
  • Have a social support system. “It seems that having high-quality social interactions, where you’re able to get support when you need it, seems to be protective in a way,” Salinas said.
  • Engage in mentally stimulating activities. “It is in the act of learning something new that we are more likely to form new brain-cell connections,” Salinas said.
  • Wear a helmet during activities like riding a bike. head injuries increased risk of dementia,

Salinas said it’s a common misconception that the only influence on dementia risk is genetics. In fact, “the vast, majority of dementia is not entirely driven by genetics,” he said.

By reducing these risk factors and engaging in brain-healthy behaviors as early in your life as possible (and know that it’s never too late to start), you can Help keep protective factors in place, he said.

It doesn’t guarantee you won’t develop dementia if you follow the advice above, Salinas said, but you’ll be better off if you develop disease-related changes. it’s worth a shot.

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