Memory Care: The Influence of Stress on Dementia
Dementia is a growing concern in modern times with more than 5 million Americans affected by it. These numbers are expected to pass 16 million by 2050 and at present, every passing 66 seconds means another US citizen develops the disease. With such alarming numbers, the necessity to find a solution for the problem is becoming highly prominent and many researchers are conducting studies to identify the causes and preventive methods for dementia. With numerous results emerging from these studies, recent findings suggest a positive relationship between stress and dementia.
As an assisted living community in Los Angeles, we have a comprehensive memory care program in place that helps seniors with memory loss, alzheimer’s, and dementia, manage their symptoms while focusing on an enjoyable retirement experience.
The negative effects of stress and its impact on health
For decades, a large number of scientific studies have acknowledged the negative effects of stress and its impact on health. During the recent years, these studies have shifted to identifying the effect of stress and how it impacts the brain in particular. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone released by the body. It is a response from the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis in the brain to stress. Measuring the levels of cortisol and analysis of life event check lists are used by these studies to quantify the effects of stress. Studies show that prolonged elevations of this stress hormone cortisol may be the cause of stress related cognitive decline. This is due to the fact that the increased levels of cortisol affect the regions of the brain such as the hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex which are critical for certain types of memory. These regions are also identified as the origins of Alzheimer’s disease which is the most common form of dementia. Recent studies conducted on animal depicted a more direct association of stress and its influence on neuropathology associated with dementia.
The correlation of stress and anxiety with dementia
A study was conducted among volunteers from the UCSD Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and Memory Screening Clinic who were aged above 65 years. From the 33 participants, 11 individuals were diagnosed of a mild cognitive impairment and a diagnosis of dementia during the follow up interval. Another study conducted on 785 older persons without dementia to identify which neuroticism trait is most responsible for dementia concluded that stress and anxiety to have the highest correlation with dementia. During the follow-up of this study, 94 of the test subjects were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and were those who were experiencing highest levels of stress.
These results from previous studies show a strong correlation between stress and dementia. This information can be vital to many of the affected dementia patients and to those who are at a risk of developing any form of dementia down the road. Knowing that stress is a main reason for such a condition can be helpful in treating dementia. Taking appropriate treatment for anxiety and following lifestyle changes that can reduce stress will help tremendously in avoiding the impacts of dementia.
Is memory loss affecting a member of your family?
If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with dementia, or appears to be experiencing other symptoms of memory loss including mild cognitive impairment or alzheimer’s disease, an assisted living community may be the best long term care solution for them. Please tour our assisted living and memory care community in Los Angeles to see how we create a healthy and peaceful retirement experience for our residents, or contact us for more information.
Carlson, L. and Sherwin, B. (1999). Relationships among cortisol (CRT), dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEAS), and memory in a longitudinal study of healthy elderly men and women. Neurobiology of Aging, 20(3), pp.315-324.
Lupien, S., de Leon, M., de Santi, S., Convit, A., Tarshish, C., Nair, N., Thakur, M., McEwen, B., Hauger, R. and Meaney, M. (1998). Cortisol levels during human aging predict hippocampal atrophy and memory deficits. Nature Neuroscience, 1(1), pp.69-73.
Rosnick, C., Small, B., McEvoy, C., Borenstein, A. and Mortimer, J. (2007). Negative Life Events and Cognitive Performance in a Population of Older Adults. Journal of Aging and Health, 19(4), pp.612-629.
Tata, D., Marciano, V. and Anderson, B. (2006). Synapse loss from chronically elevated glucocorticoids: Relationship to neuropil volume and cell number in hippocampal area CA3. The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 498(3), pp.363-374.
Wilding, J., Andrews, B. and Hejdenberg, J. (2007). Relations between life difficulties, measures of working memory operation, and examination performance in a student sample. Memory, 15(1), pp.57- 62.