A study from Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine found highly stressed individuals have twice the increased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. This surges the chances of developing later life Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers found that stress detection and treatment in older adults can help defer or prevent the neurodegenerative disorder.
The research was published in the Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders journal on Dec. 11.
"Perceived stress can be altered by mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive-behavioral therapies and stress-reducing drugs. These interventions may postpone or even prevent an individual's cognitive decline," said first author, Mindy Katz, M.P.H. from Einstein's Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Alzheimer's diseases symptoms first manifest in senior adults aged 60 and above. The risk of disease development increases with age and is believed to be linked to brain changes and family history, among other factors.
With stress as a risk factor in the development of later life Alzheimer's disease, the American Psychological Association prescribes these stress management tips for senior adults.
- Love yourself. To love oneself means to take care of the body the best way possible. Keeping an active, healthy lifestyle and weight can lower fitness-related stress.
- Stay positive. Negative thoughts increase an individual's level of emotional stress. Focus on the positive side by avoiding negative thoughts such as "I am too old" and "I can't do this."
- Become an active member in your local community. Social interaction not only reduces individual stress but also enhances self-esteem. A strong social circle can also lower risk of depression and help senior adults adjust to new life stages such as retirement and loss of old friends.
- Keep learning new things. Sign up for a ballroom dancing class or a mentoring program that can fill up the social calendar. Learning a new skill or even a new language at leisure keep the brain active and stress at bay.
- Seek professional help, if necessary. Stress takes away the later life joys senior adults can experience such as retirement and having grandchildren. Psychologists can help senior adults unravel pent up stress and even alter negative thoughts using several therapeutic techniques. One technique is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), an approach that aids patients to uncover deeply rooted negative thoughts. It also helps patients to change thoughts and views that promote stress.
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