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Lack of High School Diploma Tied to Memory Problems

Diploma and capA new study suggests individuals who don’t finish high school are at a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease compared to people with more education.

The link held true regardless of lifestyle choices and characteristics such as income, occupation, physical activity and smoking, according to a study published in the October 2, 2007, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study out of Finland followed 1,388 participants through middle-age and late life for an average of 21 years. The participants were divided into three levels: five or less years of education (low), six to eight years (medium) and nine or more years of education (high), the Finnish equivalent of elementary, middle and high school levels.

The study showed that compared with people with a low education level, those with a medium education level had a 40-percent lower risk of developing dementia and those with a high education level had an 80-percent lower risk.

“Generally speaking, people with low education levels seem to lead unhealthier lifestyles, which could suggest the two work concurrently to contribute to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but our results showed a person’s education predicted dementia on its own,” said study author Tiia Ngandu, MD, PhD.

“It may be that highly educated people have a greater cognitive reserve, which is the brain’s ability to maintain function in spite of damage, thus making it easier to postpone the negative effects of dementia. Additionally, unhealthy lifestyles may independently contribute to the depletion of this reserve.”

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Lack of High School Diploma Tied to Memory Problems

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Lack of High School Diploma Tied to Memory Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 26, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/10/02/lack-of-high-school-diploma-tied-to-memory-problems/1352.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.