We use cookies to give you the best possible experience of our website. Some of the cookies we use identify your browsing habits and enable us to show you other content and products relevant to your interests. If you continue, we'll assume you're happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website. See our privacy policy for more information on cookies and how to manage them. Close
We use cookies to give you the best possible experience of our website. Some of the cookies we use identify your browsing habits and enable us to show you other content and products relevant to your interests. If you continue, we'll assume you're happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website. See our privacy policy for more information on cookies and how to manage them. Close

Sunrise Senior Living Blog

Sunrise Senior Living Blog

'Stress Hormone' Levels In Saliva Could Indicate Risk Of Dementia

New research suggests that testing the saliva of healthy older people could help identify individuals who are at risk for dementia.

High levels of cortisol - known as the stress hormone - could result in a smaller total brain volume and poor performance in thinking and memory tests. The research, published in the journal Neurology, was conducted by scientists from America's National Institute on Aging.

High cortisol levels could lead to cognitive decline

For the study, the researchers looked at the cortisol levels, brain volumes and cognitive skills of 4,244 adults with an average age of 76 without symptoms of cognitive decline. Saliva samples were taken in the morning and evening on a single day. Based on their cortisol levels, the study participants were divided into one of three groups: high, medium or low. The participants' brains were also scanned using magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate brain volume. Memory and thinking tests were also given to assess the individuals' cognitive skills.

People with high cortisol levels had overall brain volumes that were around 16 millimetres smaller than the individuals in the low group. According to the researchers, the size differences were more notable in the grey matter regions of the brain as opposed to the white matter regions. In addition, the study participants in the high group did worse on memory and thinking tests than those in the low group.

Reduce stress to reduce risk

While the researchers only looked at a short time period and couldn't determine whether the high cortisol levels or the loss of brain volume occurred first, they are hopeful that their study will lead to the development of strategies that will reduce the negative impact of cortisol on the brain.

"As cortisol is implicated in a wide range of biological processes, it will be important to look in more detail at why levels of the hormone are linked to brain function and what factors may be behind the link," said Dr. Laura Phipps, from the charity Alzheimer's Research UK, as quoted by the Western Daily Press.

Until more research is conducted, it seems wise to take measures to reduce cortisol levels in the brain by minimising stress. Elderly individuals should work with their caregivers, support networks or assisted living care home staff to focus on eliminating stress from their daily routines.

At Sunrise Senior Living, our care homes help to reduce stress by removing many of the problems associated with home ownership, such as maintenance and household bills. For more information or to find a location near you, contact us today.

Misconceptions About Care Homes: Part 2

There are many misconceptions about assisted living that simply aren't true. When you're ready to have a discussion about the possibility of moving into care, it's best to equip yourself with a few facts.

Read More

Misconceptions About Care Homes: Part 1

Many of us have misconceptions about assisted living or residential care homes that can stop us getting the help we need.

Read More

Too Much Television 'Could Lead To Dementia'

New research presented at America's Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Washington, D.C., suggests that people's television viewing habits could have an effect on their likelihood of developing dementia.

Read More

Bathing Tips For Dementia Carers

Bathing is often the most difficult part of a dementia caregiver's routine. For carers helping people living with dementia, bathing can be one of the hardest parts of the daily routine.

Read More