Harmony prevents dementia

People who are active, outgoing and relaxed may be less likely to develop dementia, according to a new study from Karolinska Institutet.
The results are based on questionnaires about life style and personality, as well as medical examination follow ups during a six year period. The study involves 506 people, 78 years or older, who did not have dementia when first examined. The group was given questionnaires about their personality traits and lifestyle.

The personality questions identify individuals prone to distress and need for stimulation. Those prone to distress were more likely to be emotionally unstable, negative, easily nervous or upset and have a fight-or-flight response to minor problems. In contrast, the relaxed individuals were calm and self-satisfied, whereas the outgoing persons were sociable, active, and optimistic. The lifestyle questionnaire determined whether each person had a rich social network and regularly participated in leisure or organizational activities. Participants were followed for six years. During that time, 144 developed dementia.

The study found that people who were socially isolated or inactive but relaxed had a 50 per cent lower risk of developing dementia compared with people who were isolated and prone to distress. The dementia risk was also 50 per cent lower for people who were outgoing and relaxed compared to those who were outgoing but prone to distress.
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