Studies looking at the impact of caffeine on dementia have been divided.1 One literature review stated in the future experts will recommend drinking coffee not only to satisfy individual taste preferences but also to decrease age-related mental deterioration. 2 One day . . .
As with all research, the results depend on what variables and controls are part of the study. In the case of caffeine—several positive associations have been made with the variables of sleep and with age.
If you are a person who restricts caffeine after a certain time of day, cognitive research supports this practice in a study of nursing home residents with dementia.3 Behavioral symptoms and sleep were monitored as caffeine was gradually eliminated in the afternoon and evening in a dementia special care unit. Sleep improved significantly, but there was no significant change in behavioral symptoms. Caregivers - this is good news for your sleep as well.
Unfortunately, high lifetime coffee consumption has been shown to impair the quality of sleep later in life.4 The amount of coffee which constituted a high lifetime of coffee consumption was 60 cups per year, a soberingly low number of cups for many of us.
But wait, there’s hope. In a study of individuals 90 years old and older, lifestyle factors like social/mental activities, antioxidant vitamin supplements and caffeine were studied.5 At the beginning of the study, these lifestyle factors were associated with significantly reduced risk of dementia. At 36 months, the only factors that remained associated with reduced dementia were the lifestyle factors of reading and going to church/synagogue.
Tea drinker? Good news, at least one study shows the phytochemicals in tea reduce the risk for diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.6
As a caregiver of a loved one with dementia, you can rest better if you limit caffeine in the afternoon and evening for your loved one. As for the research, know caffeine remains a much-researched variable for brain health.
By-line: Cate McCarty, PhD, ADC has been collaborating with Arden Courts in a variety of roles since the late 90’s. Her background in nursing, activities and admissions has given her a passionate commitment to quality of life for the individual and family with dementia. Cate is now personally caring for her spouse who has a diagnosis of dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.
1Panza, F., Solfrizzi, V., Barulli, M.R., Bonfiglio, C., Guerra, V., et al., (2015). Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption and prevention of late-life cognitive decline and dementia: a systematic review, Journal of Nutrition and Healthy Aging, 19(3): 313-328.
2Wierzeiska, R., (2017). Can coffee consumption lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease? A literature review, Archives of Medical Science, 13(3): 507-514.
3de Pooter-Stiinman, L.M.M., Vrijkotte, S., & Smalbrugge, M. (2018). Effect of caffeine on sleep and behavior in nursing home residents with dementia, European Geriatric Medicine, 9(6): 829-835.
4Park, J., Han, J. W., Lee, J. R., Byun, S., Suh, et al. (2018). Lifetime coffee consumption, pineal gland volume, and sleep quality in late life, Sleep, 41(10).
5Paganini-Hill, A., Kawas, C. Hl, & Corrada, M.M. (2016). Lifestyle factors and dementia in the oldest-old: The 90+ study, Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders, 30(1): 21-26.
6Fernando, W.M.A.D.B., Somaratne, G., Goozee, K. G., Williams, S., Singh, H., et al. (2017). Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease; Can tea phytochemicals play a role in prevention? Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 59(2): 481-501.