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. 2018 Feb 7;13(2):e0191004.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191004. eCollection 2018.

Positive Age Beliefs Protect Against Dementia Even Among Elders With High-Risk Gene

Free PMC article

Positive Age Beliefs Protect Against Dementia Even Among Elders With High-Risk Gene

Becca R Levy et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


One of the strongest risk factors for dementia is the ε4 variant of the APOE gene. Yet, many who carry it never develop dementia. The current study examined for the first time whether positive age beliefs that are acquired from the culture may reduce the risk of developing dementia among older individuals, including those who are APOE ε4 carriers. The cohort consisted of 4,765 Health and Retirement Study participants who were aged 60 or older and dementia-free at baseline. As predicted, in the total sample those with positive age beliefs at baseline were significantly less likely to develop dementia, after adjusting for relevant covariates. Among those with APOE ε4, those with positive age beliefs were 49.8% less likely to develop dementia than those with negative age beliefs. The results of this study suggest that positive age beliefs, which are modifiable and have been found to reduce stress, can act as a protective factor, even for older individuals at high risk of dementia.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Positive age beliefs associated with resisting dementia among participants with APOE ε4 and all participants.
Dementia incidence was assessed over 4 years and adjusted for covariates among participants who were dementia-free at baseline. The symbol * indicates significant difference at p < .05 between those with positive and negative age beliefs among participants with APOE ε4 and among all participants. Age-belief scores were dichotomized at the mean of 15.

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