A study, by the Yale School of Public Health, has suggested that those who hold negative beliefs about ageing are more likely to have brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This is thought to be due to an increase in the level of stress generated by negative beliefs about ageing which was shown to lead to a greater decline in the volume of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is linked to memory. Reduced hippocampus volume is an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. The research was published today (Monday 7 December), in the journal Psychology and Aging.
Dr Ian Le Guillou, Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This interesting study suggests that having negative perceptions of old age, and the stress this can bring, can have an impact on your brain health. While this study didn’t look at the development of Alzheimer’s disease specifically, it observed both shrinkage in the hippocampus – a part of the brain associated with memory – and the build-up of toxic proteins that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
“As we age, our risk of developing health problems does increase and it’s no surprise that people will worry, but there are positive actions that people can take to limit this risk. Research shows that a healthy diet, exercising and not smoking can reduce your risk of developing dementia.”