Being calm and socially active insures against dementiaJanuary 20th, 2009 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS
London, Jan 20 (IANS) People who are socially active and calm are less likely to develop dementia, according to the latest findings.The study involved 506 older people who did not suffer from dementia when first examined. They were quizzed about their personality traits and lifestyle, to identify those with different degrees of neuroticism, a term meaning easily distressed.
The questions also measured extraversion, or openness in talking to people. Those who were not easily distressed were calm and self-satisfied, whereas people who were easily distressed were emotionally unstable, negative and nervous.
Outgoing people scored high on the extraversion scale and were socially active and optimistic compared to people with low extraversion who were reserved and introspective.
The lifestyle questionnaire determined how often each person regularly participated in leisure or organisational activities and the richness of their social network. Participants were followed for six years. During that time, 144 developed dementia.
The study found that people who were not socially active but calm and 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 calm compared to those who were outgoing and 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 calm and outgoing personality in combination with a socially active lifestyle may decrease the risk of developing dementia even further,” said study author Hui-Xin Wang, Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, according to an institute release.
“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.
The research was published in Tuesday’s issue of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Tags: dementia, extraversion, genetic factors, hippocampus, karolinska institute in stockholm, lifestyle factors, lifestyle questionnaire, london jan, network participants, openness, organisational activities, outgoing personality, parts of the brain, personality traits, richness, risk, six years, stockholm sweden, study author, xin wang