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Easy Going Personality May Protect Memory


A recent study of older adults found that an easy going personality may protect against dementia. The study published in the January 20th issue of Neurology found that older adults who were socially outgoing but not easily distressed by circumstances were less likely to develop dementia over time. They were 49% less likely to develop dementia than were people who were extroverted and neurotic.

The effect of a calm, easy going personality also held true for those who were not socially active but stayed home. Once again the easy going types were 49% less likely to develop dementia than those prone to distress.

Hui-Xin Wang, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institutet, and colleagues wrote, "These findings provide further evidence that certain personality traits may play a role in dementia development and that personality-lifestyle interactions may be especially important for determining dementia risk."

Among 506 participants without baseline dementia (average age 83), neither neuroticism nor extroversion alone significantly predicted incident dementia over the six-year follow-up.

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Combinations of traits did identify older adults who appeared to be protected against developing dementia during follow-up.

Relaxed, outgoing individuals appeared to be at lowest risk for dementia compared with those who scored high on both neuroticism and extraversion.

The study was supported by grants from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, the American Alzheimer Foundation, the

Alzheimer Foundation Sweden, the Swedish Brain Power, Swedish Research Council, Gamla Tjänarinnor Foundation, Fredrik and Ingrid Thurings Foundation, the Foundation for Geriatric Diseases and Loo and Hans Osterman Foundation for Geriatric Research at Karolinska Institutet, and the Centre for Health Care Science at Karolinska Institutet.

Source reference:
Wang H X, et al "Personality and lifestyle in relation to dementia incidence" Neurology 2009; 72: 253-259.