Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive brain disease which affects at least five million people in the United States. It is the sixth leading cause of death in America. Most of these patients are over the age of 65, but that is not when the disease begins. New research indicates that the disease can actually begin as early as a person’s 20s.
Studies say that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain and that cognitive decline over several decades can be a clear symptom of Alzheimer’s onset. However, a new study published in the December 7th issue of the online journal Psychology and Aging says that people who harbor negative thoughts about aging might actually be at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s Disease than those who approach aging with grace and opportunity.
“We believe it is the stress generated by the negative beliefs about aging that individuals sometimes internalize from society that can result in pathological brain changes,” explains lead study author Becca Levy.
The Yale University School of Public Health associate professor, “Although the findings are concerning, it is encouraging to realize that these negative beliefs about aging can be mitigated and positive beliefs about aging can be reinforced, so that the adverse impact is not inevitable.”
She continues, “What we found is that negative perceptions on aging are definitely significantly related to [Alzheimer’s] disease indicators,” noting also, however, that they are not quite sure why; at least, not yet.
Still, she says, “Regardless, the positive message here is that our thinking about aging is modifiable. It can be changed. So if we can reduce ageism, and promote more-positive views on getting older, it could perhaps be one way to reduce Alzheimer’s risk.”
So, the bottom line might be that reducing stress could improve your life in many ways and the most recent study says that one of those benefits could be a reduction in Alzheimer’s risk.