Aging, Stress & Women
MIDDLE AGE STRESSORS LINKED TO COGNITIVE DECLINE IN OLDER WOMEN
According to a study published in August by Johns Hopkins University, stressful experiences in middle age are associated with greater memory loss among older women, but this association is not found in men. The analyzed data included more than 900 Baltimore adults who were assessed over three decades, and supported evidence that stress hormones play an uneven gender role in brain health. About half of the middle-age subjects in the study underwent stresses such as being a victim or witness to a crime, as well as “marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a loved one, job loss, severe injury or sickness, or a child moving out or retirement.” The findings confirmed previous research which found that the effect of age on the stress response is three times greater in women than in men, and that stressful life events can cause memory and cognitive issues. Also noted in this research is that one in six women over age 60 will develop Alzheimer’s disease, compared with one in 11 men, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. “We can’t get rid of stressors, but we might adjust the way we respond to stress, and have a real effect on brain function as we age,” offered the Johns Hopkins’ study author, Cynthia Munro.