Stress, Poverty Raise Alzheimer's Rates in This Group

Gwen Vasquez
July 17, 2017

Another study found that living in a disadvantaged neighborhood is linked to later decline in cognitive function and biomarkers associated with Alzheimer's disease, the most prevalent form of dementia.

Experts led by a team from Wisconsin University's school of medicine and public health in the U.S. found that even one major stressful event early in life may have an impact on later brain health. The findings from a large-scale trial led by the University of Exeter, King's College London and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2017 (AAIC).

A separate study by the Kaiser Permanente and the University of California at San Francisco found a higher degree of dementia risk for people born in states with high infant mortality rates.

"I think this is important because it contributes more information to a growing body of evidence that early life matters to brain health, and that maybe early life conditions partially explain the racial disparities we see in dementia risk", Gilsanz said. This is because they scored poorer results in the memory tests than other groups and also tended to live in poorer neighbourhoods.

When looking specifically at African Americans, the team found they experienced over 60% more stressful events than white people during their lifetimes.

It mainly affects people over the age of 65 and, while the likelihood of developing dementia rises sharply with age, about 42,000 of those suffering from the condition are younger than that.

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"For a racially diverse nation like the United States, and to address Alzheimer's and dementia on a global scale, these findings support the need for targeted interventions, whether preventive or service-driven, to help address the gaps we know exist - and for more research".

And Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'There's good United Kingdom data that supports the fact that diagnosis rates are really driven by socio-economic factors'.

But she said the brain was an "incredibly intricate organ" to research.

Keep physically active for at least 30 minutes, five times a week.

Keep your alcohol intake to a maximum of 14 units per week for men and women.

Give your brain a daily workout by doing puzzles, word searches or crosswords or learning something new. "Our outcomes show that good staff training and just one hour a week of social interaction significantly improves the quality of life for a group of people who can often be forgotten by society".

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