Your personality might be linked to the risk of developing dementia, a study reveals

Certain personality types have an effect on cognitive decline
Nearly 2,000 participants
The Windy City represented
Big Five Personality Traits
NEO Five-Factor Inventory
Variants
Conscientiousness
Neurotics and dementia
Extroverts
Seeking help
Up to a point
Improving health
Tipping the scale
Only so much against dementia
Don't worry, be happy
The secret of a longer, healthier life
Certain personality types have an effect on cognitive decline

A new study from the American Psychological Association suggests that certain personality traits have an effect on the cognitive decline of older people. The results were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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Nearly 2,000 participants

The researchers, led by Dr. Tomiko Yoneda from the University of Victoria, collected data from nearly 2,000 individuals for almost two decades to understand the link between personality traits and the risk of developing dementia.

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The Windy City represented

The 1,954 participants averaged at age 80 and were recruited from senior housing facilities, church groups, and other organizations in the Greater Chicago Area. None of them had a previous dementia diagnosis before starting the study.

Big Five Personality Traits

The team led by Yoneda defined used the Big Five Personality Traits as a model. These are Neuroticism, Extroversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness.

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NEO Five-Factor Inventory

The participants were assessed through the NEO Five-Factor Inventory, defining their personality traits. They also received annual exams focused on neurophysiological and biological variables, examining the presence and gravity of cognitive impairment.

Variants

Variants such as gender, education, and history of previous illnesses such as heart diseases, strokes, depression, and vascular disease were also taken into consideration. Curiously enough, the vast majority of participants in the study were women, with a good deal of them being white and middle to the upper class.

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Conscientiousness

The results were pretty clear: People who presented a larger level of conscientiousness, that is, careful and diligent, had a decreased risk of suffering cognitive decline.

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Neurotics and dementia

Meanwhile, those who showed higher levels of neuroticism were more likely to develop dementia.

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Extroverts

Extroversion had a more complex relationship with dementia. At first, it seemed that extroverted people received no special protection from cognitive decline.

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Seeking help

However, once mild symptoms started to appear, they were more likely to recover. This suggests that extroverted individuals were more likely to seek help at an early stage.

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Up to a point

Sadly, once dementia fully sets in, these advantages no longer were relevant.

Improving health

Researchers were unable to measure how two other personality traits, openness, and agreeableness, played a role in cognitive decline. Nonetheless, both tend to be linked to improving health.

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Tipping the scale

Overall, personality traits seem that can tip the scale either way in the early stages of cognitive decline.

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Only so much against dementia

However, this can only do so much. Once dementia sets in, personality erodes and traits no longer play a factor in avoiding death.

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Don't worry, be happy

Still, the big takeaway from the study might be that living a stressful existence makes us more harm than we knew in the long run.

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The secret of a longer, healthier life

Meanwhile, being more calm and reflective can lead to a longer, healthier life.

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