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The Connection Between Anxiety and Dementia

Dementia affects a significant proportion of the elderly population, according to elder care agencies in Columbus, and there is no cure. Some researchers have been focusing on figuring out what causes dementia in hopes of being able to prevent the condition. Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heavy alcohol use, obesity, smoking, uncontrolled high blood pressure, use of hormone replacement therapy, and elevated homocysteine and LDL cholesterol are all modifiable factors that increase the risk of developing dementia. However, the primary focus has been on the connection between chronic anxiety and dementia.

Depression and Anxiety

Some studies have linked the presence of depression to an elevated risk of dementia, particularly in men. However, it is possible that rather than being a causative factor, depression in older men is a symptom of early-stage dementia. Depression and anxiety disorders often coexist, and therefore researchers decided to see if anxiety might be linked to a higher risk of dementia. In a study of identical and fraternal twins conducted in Sweden, individuals affected by severe anxiety were found to have a 48 percent higher likelihood of developing dementia.

Severe Anxiety

The researchers emphasize that the level of anxiety linked to dementia is not a normal or healthy level of anxiety. These people had abnormally high levels of anxiety throughout life, a level that led one of the researchers to describe them as “frantic and frazzled.”

Stress

The researchers speculated that prolonged exposure to stress hormones due to the high level of anxiety in these people was a contributing to the development of dementia as they get older. Chronic exposure to stress hormones is known to cause damage to the parts of the brain involved in memory and higher-level thinking, and the findings of this study suggest that reducing anxiety and stress may help all people reduce their chance of developing dementia. Anti-anxiety medication, meditation, exercise, and yoga are a few ways to maintain a healthy brain throughout life.

If your aging parent or loved one is living with memory impairment and you’re concerned about his or her health and safety, don’t hesitate to reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our trusted Alzheimer’s caregivers in Columbus provide safety monitoring, medication reminders, and emotional companionship to help seniors