New study claims connections between personality traits and pre‐dementia syndromes

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FILE – In this May 19, 2015, file photo, a doctor points to PET scan results that are part of a study on Alzheimer’s disease at a hospital in Washington. Scientists know that long before the memory problems of Alzheimer’s become obvious, people experience more subtle changes in their thinking and judgment. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society claims there’s a relationship between personality traits such as neuroticism, anxiety and depression and the development of certain pre‐dementia syndromes.

In Southwest Florida, Dan Moser’s wife, Maria, has frontotemporal degeneration dementia

“She’s a beautiful woman … very artistic, doing all kinds of art,” Moser said. “We met running. She’s an athlete … She is extremely competitive.”

After 30 years of marriage, Moser can tell you all about his wife. And, as the years have gone by, he’s had to because Maria’s dementia is wearing away her ability to communicate.

Moser says nothing in his wife’s history or background warned them she might develop dementia.

The new research hopes to give more families whose loved ones are developing dementia an early warning.

Dan and Maria Moser. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

But some experts call the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study flawed.

“Since the personality measures were taken so close to the cutoff from measuring incident dementia, it’s possible that the earliest stages of dementia actually affected the participants’ scores on the personality test,” said Stefanie Thompson Wardlow, the senior program manager of quality initiatives at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Instead, Wardlow says families looking to lower their risk should focus on lifestyle changes. The Alzheimer’s Association says genetics, environmental and social factors might contribute to a person’s risk for dementia, but more research is still needed.

“Eat a balanced diet. We can exercise, and we can get a lot more sleep,” Wardlow said. “So not just doing one thing, but trying to do multiple things.”

It’s a strategy that has worked for the Mosers.

“It’s just amazing,” Moser said. “She should have been way past where she is now in her ability to communicate.”

MORE: The Effect of Personality Traits on Risk of Incident Pre-dementia Syndromes

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