A Positive Outlook On Aging Might Help Improve Memory
The power of positive thinking might have some measurable benefits — at least when it comes to cognitive function. A team of researchers at the Yale School of Public Health assessed the cognitive health of 1,716 people ages 65 and older who were part of the national Health and Retirement Study. The volunteers participated in assessments of their health and cognition, as well as their attitudes about aging. This included disagreeing or agreeing with statements such as, “The older I get, the more useless I feel.” Some of the participants were found to have MCI (mild cognitive impairment).
Participants with positive beliefs about aging who did not have MCI at the start of the study, were less likely to develop it over the next 12 years compared with those with negative attitudes about aging. Furthermore, the investigators found that participants with MCI who had expressed more positive beliefs about aging at the beginning of the study were 30 percent more likely to regain their cognitive function than those with negative attitudes about getting older. According to the researchers, their findings, “suggest the importance of considering the role of culture, expressed here through age beliefs, in MCI development and reversal…previous studies have reported that cognition is predicted by stress levels and health behaviors, both of which can be improved by positive age beliefs.”
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