Higher levels of education help delay the onset of Alzheimer's, but once the disease takes hold, mental decline is faster among those with more schooling, researchers have found. Each year of education is linked to a 2.5 month delay in accelerated memory loss, according to the study in Neurology. But once it begins, mental deterioration progresses 4% faster for each year of education.
That means someone who attended school for 16 years might suffer mental decline nearly 50% faster than a person with only four years of education. Better educated people appear to have a greater "cognitive reserve," researchers speculate. The findings are "important to clinicians so they can advise patients that things might get very bad very fast," said the lead researcher.