13 December 2012
Key stages in Alzheimer’s development
Research has identified 3 key stages in the development of the condition. The stages begin in
school age, continue into middle age, with the final stage being in later life.
This timeline starts with a person’s education, involving details of the length of time spent in school, including university. The second step on the timeline is having a demanding working life with the final stage being a good social life into old age.
All these stages help to keep the mind sharper for longer, giving people extra time to enjoy with their loved ones.
The study, part funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK, looked at 12,500 British pensioners and analysed their education, main job and social life. Participant’s mental health was then tracked for 16 years.
Results showed that a longer education and a more mentally demanding career were both associated with fewer memory problems. Those with an active social life also had this lower risk and all three factors showed a link to a slower decline in cognitive ability if dementia did develop.
The researchers calculated that a 65 year old man with a good education, mentally demanding job and social retirement would live to 81. This is about 3 years longer than someone with a short education, undemanding job and little social life.