Stress in the elderly
There have been new reports claiming stress in the elderly is linked to Alzheimer’s. Highly stressed people are twice as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment such as memory loss – often a prelude to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.
It appears that the group most likely to develop chronic stress that can trigger Alzheimer’s, are less educated women who are prone to depression. Read the full article from The Express.
In Britain, there are a staggering 850,000 people suffering with dementia, nearly two thirds of whom are women. It has been estimated that within a decade, that number will surpass the one million mark.
A study in the US explored the connection between chronic stress in the elderly and “amnestic mild cognitive impairment” (aMCI). ‘aMCI’ is the most common type of MCI, which is primarily characterised by memory loss.
The study, published in Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders, followed 507 people for an average of 3.6 years. Stress was assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) to measure chronic stress perceived over the previous month.
In total people 71 were diagnosed with aMCI during the study. The study found the greater the participants’ stress level, the greater their risk for developing aMCI.
Therapy to treat stress
Thankfully, stress in the elderly can be treated through various therapies, to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.
“Fortunately, perceived stress is a modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, making it a potential target for treatment.”
The study showed that ‘perceived stress’ increases the likelihood that an older person will develop aMCI.
Senior associate Mindy Katz added: “Perceived stress reflects the daily hassles we all experience, as well as the way we appraise and cope with these events.”
‘Perceived stress’ can be modified by mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive-behavioural therapies and stress-reducing drugs. Such treatments may delay or even postpone an individual’s cognitive decline.