Determined not to get dementia

A US study suggests goal-driven people are less susceptible to dementia.

A US study suggests that those who see themselves as self-disciplined and organised have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than people who are less conscientious.

A purposeful personality may somehow protect the brain, perhaps by increasing neural connections that can act as a reserve against mental decline, said Robert Wilson of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.

The brains of some of the dutiful people in the study were examined after their deaths and were found to have lesions that would meet accepted criteria for Alzheimer’s – even though these people had shown no signs of dementia.

Previous studies have linked social connections and stimulating activities like working puzzles with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s.

“This adds to our knowledge that lifestyle, personality, how we think, feel and behave are very importantly tied up with risk for this terrible illness,” Wilson said.

“It may suggest new ideas for trying to delay the onset of this illness.”

The same researchers reported previously that people who experience more distress and worry about their lives are at a higher risk.

Renee Goodwin of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health was not involved in the new study but has done similar work that found a connection between conscientiousness and better health.

“It’s having self-discipline and energy, doing the healthy things,” Goodwin said.

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