In a new study, researchers found that dementia risk is lower among older people who were calm, mature and energetic high schoolers.
They found being calm and mature as a teen were each linked to a 10% reduction in adult dementia risk. And vigor was linked to a 7% reduction.
The research was conducted by a team at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C.
The study has its origins in the 1960s, when more than 82,000 students in roughly 1,200 U.S. high schools took a personality test.
At an average age of 16, these students were tested for 10 traits: calmness, vigor, organization, self-confidence, maturity/responsibility, leadership, impulsivity, desire for social interaction, social sensitivity, and artistic and intellectual refinement.
By 2011-2013, when they were almost 70 years old, more than 2,500 had developed dementia.
The team found the risk of dementia was lower among seniors who were calm, vigorous and mature as teens.
Calmness was defined as being stress-free and not neurotic; vigor as being energetic and outgoing; and maturity as being responsible, reliable and conscientious.
But the team also found that calmness, vigor, and maturity did not protect against adult dementia among teens who grew up in relatively poor households.
While the findings highlight a link between dementia and personality, the team that it’s hard to draw a direct correlation and more work is needed to confirm the findings.
The lead author of the study is Kelly Peters, a principal researcher.
The study is published in JAMA Psychiatry.
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