By analyzing the longest study on aging to ever be conducted in the US, the Baltimore-Longitudinal Study on Aging, scientists have discovered that a negative view on old age may lead to a susceptibility for Alzheimer’s disease.
This is due to the fact that by thinking of old age, a high amount of stress is produced. Considering that stress is one of the greatest factors that allow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, doctors are now trying to find ways to stop this “ageism” mentality.
The study group was formed out of 50 patients presenting a high degree of good mental health. Their progress through time was researched over 30 years, by analyzing their brain processes through the use of MRI scans as well as psychological therapies.
Researchers from the National Institute of Health compared the scans with each other and came to a pretty stunning conclusion. With old age, the hippocampus part of the brain starts to decrease in size. But patients who viewed old age with negativity or disgust presented a larger decrease in the hippocampus than the other patients who either ignored or viewed things optimistically.
Alzheimer’s disease afflicts over 5.3 million people across the country. This disease is characterized by the degeneration of brain tissue, forming amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tissue entanglements. This leads to a severe loss of memory, be it short or long term, as well as a difficulty in operating on a daily basis due to loss of motor skills or reasoning capabilities.
But the connection made by the team of researchers is not entirely conclusive, in accordance with the fact that a plethora of other various elements may have been involved in the study, not just stress. Alzheimer’s disease has many causes which range from a genetic vulnerability towards the disease as well as traumatic events that may occur in the patient’s life.
Even so, the decrease in the hippocampus region present in patients with negative views is still present. This phenomenon can be circumvented by educating the masses towards the prevention of this disease, as well as urging a healthier lifestyle, from a psychological point of view.
By viewing old age in a negative aura, people might opt to eat in a less healthy manner as well as completely ditching exercise and working out. Even if one might make fun of an elderly person for their slower walking speed or general behavior, the idea that you may very well face the same factors is planted in your subconscious, generating a great deal of stress.
Because having a negative view on old age may lead to a susceptibility for Alzheimer’s disease, doctors advise the public masses to think twice before making fun of the elderly. By viewing them with a degree of respect, as well as considering that you yourself at an old age might actually be happier than now, would help in the prevention of Alzheimer’s by a great amount.