Tuesday, June 23

Don't Take It So Hard, For Your Brain's Sake

Find out how stress affects Alzheimer's risk, along with 10 ways to de-stress and relax.

The Study

Women who suffer from a lot of stress in middle age may increase their risk of developing dementia in later life.

This is according to research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

The researchers say that the response to common life events - such as divorce or serious illness or death of a close family member - may trigger long lasting physiological changes in the brain. The study looked at 800 Swedish women whose mental health and wellbeing was tracked over a period of almost 40 years as part of the larger project which started in 1968. Between 1968 and 2006, 10 per cent (153) developed dementia, 104 of whom developed Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at the UK's Alzheimer's Society, commented,
'This study is not the first to link stress with the development of dementia. However, it is still unclear whether stress is a cause of the condition or exacerbates the symptoms.
'We all go through stressful events at some stage in our lives. Understanding how these events may become a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer's disease is key to helping us find ways of preventing or treating the condition. This is an important area of research and one that we are currently supporting. It's hoped the results of our study, and others, will offer clues to new treatments or better ways of managing Alzheimer's.'

How to De-Stress

Suggestions for De-Stressing
  1. Get plenty of exercise.
  2. Use deep breathing and other relaxation techniques.
  3. Get regular massages.
  4. Get enough sleep at night.
  5. Eat well and take care of your body.
  1. Leave work at work, both physically and mentally.
  2. Turn off work phones or emails during your off hours.
  3. Keep your spouse posted about major happenings at work, but save your day-to-day complaints for a co-worker who better understands.
  4. If the hours your job demands are interfering with your marriage, consider making a change.
  1. Set boundaries with your extended families so they don't impose or cause friction in your marriage.
  2. Take dual responsibility for caring for your children so one parent doesn't get overwhelmed.
  3. Remember that it's perfectly appropriate and healthy to spend time together away from your kids. Hire a babysitter or send them to spend a weekend with the grandparents.
  1. Live within your means. Set a budget and stick to it.
  2. Have an emergency fund saved so you can worry less about having the worst happen.
  3. Meet with a financial advisor and talk about things like college savings and retirement. You'll feel better about your financial future if you're prepared.
  4. Consider separate accounts for your day-to-day needs so you don't have to constantly keep up with what the other is spending.

Other good sources on how to develop healthy habits to prevent Alzheimer's include:

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