What does your high school personality say about your risk of dementia?


What does your high school personality say about your risk of dementia?
What were you like in high school? It’s something a lot of us would rather not think about – many people are happy to leave their immature and angst-filled younger selves in the past.

But new research has asked this question, and the answer could indicate your risk of developing dementia decades later.

A study led by researchers at the University of Rochester and published in JAMA Psychiatry has shown that personality traits as a teenager may predict dementia risk more than 50 years later.

Researchers used data from Project Talent – a 1960 study that saw over 440,000 high school students surveyed, creating the largest sample of high school students in the US. Participants took tests for 10 personality traits, with the average age of each participant being 16.

Medicare records for more than 82,000 Project Talent participants were examined, and researchers found that 2,543 met criteria for dementia by an average age of about 70.

So which traits had the lowest relative risk of being diagnosed with dementia in later life? They’re traits that any parent would hope for when raising a teenager! Relative risk was lower for teens with high levels of vigour, calmness and maturity.

The researchers also considered the influence of socioeconomic status. For higher levels of socioeconomic status, the protection from dementia from calmness and maturity was found to increase. At lower socioeconomic status, these two personality traits did not reduce risk for a dementia diagnosis.



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