Your probably don’t know anyone who is looking forward to being an “old person.” In fact, if you’re like most people, you probably spend a good amount of time and money trying to defy aging altogether–smooth your wrinkles (and prevent new ones), regrow your thinning hair, cover up grey hair, slim down your tummy, suck out stubborn fat, and tighten your forehead skin…
Have you ever wondered about the real price of staying young forever?
According to recent research, it seems that this price might be Alzheimer’s disease. Two recent studies conducted at Yale University have found a strong link between negative feelings about “old people” and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“We believe it is the stress generated by the negative beliefs about aging that individuals sometimes internalize from society that can result in pathological brain changes,” said Becca Levy, associate professor of public health and of psychology at Yale. “Although the findings are concerning, it is encouraging to realize that these negative beliefs about aging can be mitigated and positive beliefs about aging can be reinforced, so that the adverse impact is not inevitable.”
The study suggests that combating negative beliefs about aging, such as elderly people are decrepit, could potentially offer a way to reduce the rapidly rising rate of Alzheimer’s disease, a devastating neurodegenerative disorder that causes dementia in more than 5 million Americans.
The study was led by Becca Levy, an associate professor of public health and of psychology. The results are the first to show that there might be a link between our negative societal view on aging and the ultimate development of Alzheimer’s disease. (You can read the full study in the journal Psychology and Aging.)
How Researcher Found Link Between Dementia & Thoughts?
1 – MRI analysis found signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
The authors of this study conducted research on healthy individuals from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, the nation’s longest-running scientific study of aging. After analyzing their MRIs, scientists were able to see what seniors with a negative view on aging seemed to show a lower volume of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is important for memory and cognitive function. This type of reduced hippocampal volume is a strong indicator of current or developing Alzheimer’s disease.
2 – Brain Autopsies found indicators of dementia
After analyzing the MRIs, researchers also took a deeper look at autopsies of the brain, looking for two more indicators of dementia. These include; (1) amyloid plaques, which are protein clusters that build up between brain cells, and (2) neurofibrillary tangles, which are twisted strands of protein that build up within brain cells.
Based on their findings, seniors who had a negative view on aging, had more plaques and tangles. Note: These age related stereotypes were documented about 28 years prior to these patients developed plaques and tangles.
Although the link between negative thoughts about old people and dementia risk isn’t completely clear, the indication can’t be denied. Better to be safe than sorry, right? So, next time you catch yourself complaining about wrinkles and grey hair think again.
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