According to a 40-year long study published in the journal Neurology, women with neurotic personality traits may have more than double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. These so-called neurotic traits include jealousy, anger, guilt and worry. They sound like pretty normal traits for humans, but it appears that excessive worriers may be at an increased risk for cognitive problems.
Neurotic Behavior May Increase Alzheimer’s Risk
Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Switzerland tracked a group of 800 women for 38 years. The average age was 46 at the beginning of the study. Each woman’s personality, memory and stress levels were tested at various intervals during the study. What researchers found was that the women who tended to be more neurotic and experienced prolonged bouts of stress were more likely to suffer from cognitive issues as they aged compared to their more lax counterparts.
Does this mean that excessive worriers are doomed? Of course not. Worrying, after all, is a natural part of being an adult. Everyone worries about money, their marriage, their kids, their health and more at some time or another. What the study does do, however, is point out that the way the brain reacts to stress can have an impact on cognitive health later in life.
Managing Stress is Key to Good Cognitive Health
Medical professionals recommend that managing stress in a healthy, constructive manner is key to keeping physical and mental health in check. This is particularly important for caregivers who take on a lot of daily stress and are at risk of caregiver burnout. As they juggle the demands of their own care with that of their parent’s, they need to have stress relievers to fall back on.
Examples of stress relievers include:
- Yoga or stretching
- Deep breathing exercises
- Hiking or walking
- Cooking or baking
It’s also important for caregivers to take time out for themselves on a regular basis. Make plans and follow through with them. Visit a friend for coffee. Leave the weekends open to your own desire. Join a book club or cooking class. Caregiving has its hard times, but knowing that the way you deal with stress today can affect you in the long-term is an important part of the equation.