There’s documented proof that stress wreaks plenty of havoc on the body. But stress can be damaging in more ways than you may think. For one, feeling stressed out increases the likelihood that seniors will develop mild cognitive impairment, often a prelude to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease, according to research.

Scientists find that highly stressed participants were more than twice as likely to become impaired than those who were not. Because stress is treatable, the results suggest that detecting and treating stress in older people might help delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.

This study looked at the connection between chronic stress and “amnestic mild cognitive impairment” (aMCI), the most common type of MCI, which is primarily characterized by memory loss.

“Our study provides strong evidence that perceived stress increases the likelihood that an older person will develop aMCI,” said Richard Lipton, M.D., senior author of the study, vice chair of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System. “Fortunately, perceived stress is a modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, making it a potential target for treatment.”

Senior centers and other organizations are great places to find others who can offer a little friendship and activities that could help older adults de-stress their lives. The Senior Scene is a free monthly newsletter for Santa Fe area seniors that lists ongoing activities, volunteer opportunities and more. A PDF of the most recent publication is available by visiting the Senior Scene webpage.

This article was submitted courtesy of SFHN member Home Instead Senior Care