People who are more laid back are less likely to develop dementia in old age, a study has suggested.
Research published in the journal Neurology asked 500 healthy elderly people to fill out questionnaires about their personalities. Those who were calm and relaxed had a 50% lower risk of developing dementia during the six years of the study. UK experts said it offered "compelling evidence" of the need to be "socially active throughout life". There are 700,000 people with dementia in the UK. That number is expected to rise to over one million by 2025 and 1.7 million by 2051.
The personality questionnaires measured neuroticism - a term meaning easily distressed, and extraversion - or openness to talking to people. Those who were not easily distressed were calm and self-satisfied, whereas people who were easily distressed were emotionally unstable, negative and nervous.
The study of people aged 78 and over found that people who were socially inactive but calm and relaxed had a 50% lower risk of developing dementia compared with people who were socially isolated and prone to distress. The dementia risk was also 50% lower for people who were outgoing and calm compared to those who were outgoing and prone to distress.
The lifestyle questionnaire determined how often each person regularly participated in leisure activities and the richness of their social network. During that period they were studied, 144 people developed dementia.