Stress in Older People Increases Risk for Pre-Alzheimer’s Condition

Stress is bad for you at any age, but as you get older, it can put you at a greater risk for developing a pre-Alzheimer’s condition, according to a recent study. Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System discovered that high stress levels made seniors twice as likely to be stricken with mild cognitive impairment, which is often a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

Women Face a Higher Risk

The researchers followed 507 participants who were at least 70 years old for more than three years They discovered that the subjects with the worst stress levels were the most prone to mild cognitive impairment. Those with the most stress tended to be women with lower education levels, who were also more likely to suffer from depression.

While depression is also a risk factor for mild cognitive impairment, as well as for stress itself, the researchers assessed whether it was affecting their results. They confirmed that the elevated stress levels were behind the pre-Alzheimer’s condition.

Seniors Have Many Stress Management Choices

This study showed that, while stress management is important for everyone, it’s especially critical in the later adult years. Many stress management strategies work well at any age. For example, this WebPsychology article says that progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, meditation, massage therapy, visualization and journaling are all good ways to lower your stress level. They’re not physically draining, so most are suitable even for senior citizens who have some physical limitations.

For those who are more spry, yoga is also a good way to cut down on stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America also pegs regular exercise as a natural stress buster. In addition to helping you manage your stress, studies have shown that aerobic activity may help you manage cognitive impairment if you already have Alzheimer’s disease.

With effects like a lowered immune system, irritability, digestive problems and headaches, stress isn’t good for anyone. If it goes on too long, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and other physical problems in addition to cognitive impairment. Learn to manage it Sno matter what phase of life you’re currently in, as it will pay big dividends now and later.