Hearing loss, highly stressful life events, speech and where you live could all be risk factors for cognitive decline, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison research presented this week at the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in London.
It’s the largest international meeting dedicated to dementia science.
These studies gleaned data from the long-running Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP), which has been following 1,500 participants, many of them adult children of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Megan Zuelsdorff, a postdoctoral trainee in the Health Disparities Research Scholar program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and her group looked at lifetime stressful events and racial disparities in cognitive health. Results showed African-Americans experienced over 60 more stressful events than whites over their lifetimes, and these experiences were one of the strongest predictors of poorer memory and thinking skills in older age. In African-Americans, each stressful event was equivalent to approximately four years of cognitive aging. Stressful events included experiences such as growing up with a parent who abused alcohol or drugs, being fired from a job, the death of a child, and experiencing combat.