Welcoming Old Age May Lower Risk Of Dementia (Study)

Having a positive outlook on aging may lower the risk of dementia, according to a new study.

Growing old is a natural part of life and the sooner you come to terms with it the likelier you are to spend your golden years dementia-free. A new study suggests that having a positive outlook on aging can significantly reduce the risk of dementia. This can also be applied to people who are predisposed to the condition.

To reach this conclusion, researchers from Yale University and the National Institute on Aging monitored about 5 thousand people aged 60 and older over a four-year period. They found that having a positive attitude toward getting old influences a person’s mental health later on.

Researchers took into account the participant’s perceptions about several aspects of old age by asking how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “The older I get, the more useless I feel”.

One of the most prevalent dementia risk factors the researchers found was a variant of the APOE gene. It is estimated that one-quarter of US residents carry this variant, out of which 47 percent actually develop a related brain disease.

Carriers of the APOE gene variant who had a positive outlook on aging were 44 percent less likely to develop dementia than those who had negative age beliefs. The results were especially strong among variant carriers who were 50 percent less likely to develop dementia if they had positive attitudes toward growing old.

“We found that positive age beliefs can reduce the risk of one of the most established genetic risk factors of dementia,” said Becca Levy, lead author of the study and a professor of public health and of psychology at the Yale School of Public Health.

According to Professor Levy, another key factor to dementia development is stress. Researchers found that people who treated the idea of aging with pessimism had exacerbated response to stress.

Researchers have yet to discover whether negative outlooks can cause the development of dementia or if it’s the other way around.

The study was published in the journal, PLOS ONE.

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