Chronic psychological stress may increase the risk of dementia


July 27, 2011

More than 5.4 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seniors who suffer from dementia may be at higher risk of falling and injury, which is why a senior alert system could be a wise investment.

Researchers at the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education at Utah State University recently examined the relationship between psychological stress and dementia by studying data gathered during the 15-year Cache County Memory Study (CCMS).

"Using this objective data, such as death records, medical information and the cognitive evaluations from the CCMS, we were able to see that people who experienced particularly stressful life events, such as a parent's death during one's childhood, death of a child or spouse, or living with a spouse who is afflicted with dementia is associated with significantly higher rates of dementia later in life," said lead researcher Maria Norton.

The results of this study may help doctors diagnose dementia earlier. They also found that better coping abilities were related to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's.