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How Stress Factors into Alzheimer’s Development

By Nick Paciello, 9:00 am on

Though experiencing stress from time to time is normal, it’s important for seniors to manage these feelings so their health is not impacted. When your senior loved one becomes stressed, it can actually increase his or her odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Henderson Alzheimer’s care experts discuss a few of the possible connections between the two conditions.

Cortisol

Stress causes the levels of cortisol released into the body to increase. Once cortisol enters the brain, this hormone begins to kill off brain cells, which can cause Alzheimer’s to develop. Seniors with high levels of cortisol are 3 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those without stress and increased cortisol in the body.

Memory Loss 

Anxiety makes it hard for seniors to concentrate, and stress can lead to both short-term and long-term memory loss, causing Alzheimer’s to develop. When your loved one’s mind is distracted or over-stimulated, his or her ability to remember things may begin to decrease. The most common type of stress that builds tension and negatively impacts the memory is emotional trauma, which is not always easy to avoid. It is best to get your loved one immediate treatment to help manage the situation and reduce the risk of depression, stress, and anxiety.

Anxiety Medications 

When these medications are taken for a long time, they can cause your loved one to become confused and dizzy and increase his or her risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The benzodiazepines in anxiety medications can rob your loved one of his or her memory and lead to other medical concerns. However, short-term usage of these drugs may help him or her manage stress and anxiety without leading to the risk of confusion and disorientation.

Beta-Amyloid Proteins

Chronic stress can increase the amount of beta-amyloid proteins produced in the brain. When these proteins are isolated, they do not cause serious problems. However, when they increase they can have a negative effect on cognition and limit a person’s connection to the brain, which leads to Alzheimer’s disease. It is a good idea to learn how to prevent stressful situations that lead to an increased production of beta-amyloid proteins. For example, your loved one can learn how to create budgets to maintain financial stability or speak with therapists or groups in the community that can help him or her handle the loss of a family member or close friend.

Home Care Assistance offers a program called the Balanced Care Method that encourages healthy lifestyles and makes stress management easier for seniors. This program is included free with any of our care plans and focuses on calmness and purpose to promote greater longevity. For more information on elder care Henderson seniors and their families can count on, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at (702) 527-7723 today.