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Your personality as a teenager can predict your risk of dementia

  Your personality as a teenager can predict your risk of dementia

(HealthDay) – Can your personality as a teenager predict your risk of dementia half a century later?

Very perhaps, say researchers, who found that the dementia risk is lower among the elderly who were calm, mature and energetic high school students.

risk, "said the study's co-author Kelly Peters, principal investigator at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC" And the energy was associated with a 7% reduction. "

The finding originated in the 1

960s, when more than 82,000 students in approximately 1,200 US colleges took a personality test. More than 50 years later, their personality traits were compared to dementia diagnoses.

While Peters said there are good on evidence that personality changes near the time of a dementia diagnosis, the remaining question has been whether personality or certain aspects of it actually cause dementia . "That's the big question," she said. just that personality can be affected by dementia? Is it just an expression of the disease? "By focusing on teens who did not later develop dementia, Peters said," this study is really beginning to tease it out. "

At an average age of 16, students were rated for 10 characteristics: calm, power, organization, self-confidence, maturity / responsibility, leadership, impulsivity, the desire for social interaction, social sensitivity and artistic and intellectual refinement.

In 2011-2013, when they were almost 70 years old, more than 2500 had developed dementia.

19659004] Enter lead author Benjamin Chapman, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester, New York.

After stacking 50-year personality profiles against current medical records, he and his team found that the risk of dementia was particularly lower among seniors who were calm, powerful and mature as teenagers.

Calm was defined as stress-free and not neurotic; power as energetic and outgoing; and maturity as response resilient, reliable and conscientious.

Peters said the results could lead political thinkers to develop improved social support systems "to help children build protective qualities." But she highlighted some reservations.

For one thing, the team only looked at features that were protective, she said. And money seemed to be important: Calm, power and maturity did not seem to protect against dementia in adults among teenagers who grew up in relatively poor households.

Chapman's study also followed dementia only around the age of 70. That's what his Rochester colleague Dr. Anton Porsteinsson, means "there is much more work to be done." He did not participate in the study.

"The average age for an Alzheimer's diagnosis is about the beginning of the 1980s," says Porsteinsson, director of the University's Alzheimer's Disease Care, Research and Education Program. "So it would be really good to repeat this for another 10 to 15 years, to see what happens when dementia risk is really at its peak."

While the results found a link between dementia and personality, he said it is difficult to draw a direct correlation.

"If you are calm and conscientious, do you make better health choices in your life? And if so, are specific personality traits directly crucial in terms of dementia? Or does your risk of dementia indirectly reflect the better decisions?" Porsteinsson said so.

Heather Snyder is the Vice President of Medical Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer's Association.

"There are a variety of social, environmental and genetic factors that can contribute to our risk of dementia, and more research is needed to determine what they are and how they interact," Snyder said.

But she said that "there is not enough evidence at present to suggest that a high school personality type intervention strategy would be effective."

Porsteinsson cautioned to use the study to conclude that there is clearly one " good "personality and a" bad. " It may be, he said, that impulsivity and neuroticism, although bad for dementia, "puts another skill on the table" that has value.

"We do not necessarily want all children to be calm and composed at all times. We do not want everyone to fit in the same shape," Porsteinsson said.

"So we have to be very careful how we interpret these results until we really understand a lot more about what this is really about," he said.

The study was published October 16 JAMA Psychiatry .

Personality changes do not precede clinical onset of Alzheimer's, studies show

More information:
There is more about dementia and Alzheimer's risk factors at the Alzheimer's Association.

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