Stress and anxiety can have detrimental effect on a person’s physical health and it may hamper his ability to perform everyday activities, especially in the older adults. These problems can give rise to serious long-term conditions. According to a study, the chance of developing mild cognitive impairment may go up in depressed older adults which may lead to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease in later life. The findings were published in journal Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders.
In another research – the Einstein Aging Study – scientists tried to understand the link between chronic stress and amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI), which is generally characterized by memory loss. As part of the study, scientists enrolled 507 adults over the age of 70. The findings revealed that 71 people diagnosed with aMCI were influenced by factors such as gender, depression and education.
“Our study provides strong evidence that perceived stress increases the likelihood that an older person will develop aMCI,” said lead author Dr. Richard Lipton. “Fortunately, perceived stress is a modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, making it a potential target for treatment.”
“Perceived stress reflects the daily hassles we all experience, as well as the way we appraise and cope with these events,” said co-author Mindy Katz. “Perceived stress can be altered by mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive-behavioral therapies and stress-reducing drugs. These interventions may postpone or even prevent an individual’s cognitive decline.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s may show its first sign after the age of 60 and as the person grows older the threat may also increase. However, many other factors, including family history and brain changes throughout life, may also trigger the condition.
The CDC is making continuous efforts in this direction and supporting the proposed actions of The Healthy Brain Initiative: The Public Health Road Map for State and National Partnerships, 2013-2018. With its key message, ‘Educate and empower the nation,’ it also supports Healthy People 2020, which is related to older adults. The organization also aims to develop and disseminate messages and strategies that will bring about awareness about cognitive impairment in older adults. This effort may result in increased detection of cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease.
The way ahead
Every year, approximately 470,000 Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia. The problem that begins with mild cognitive impairment may develop into a full-blown Alzheimer’s disease with aging. Although forgetfulness can be frustrating, most of the times it isn’t a cause of concern. But when someone can’t get away with it and experiences problems at work, social activities and relationships, it may be a warning sign of cognitive decline.
Stress is preventable and treatable, and if carefully monitored, incidences of Alzheimer’s disease can come down, especially in the elderly population. “Perceived stress can be altered by mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive-behavioral therapies and stress-reducing drugs. These interventions may postpone or even prevent an individual’s cognitive decline,” Katz added.
If you or your loved one is dealing with stress that demands medical intervention, call Texas Mental Health Recovery Helpline anytime at 866-596-4708 and seek the treatment that best suits your need.