Less Cognitive Decline in Optimistic Women!

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Optimism lessens your risk of cognitive decline as you age.  That’s the findings of a 2016 study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Psychosomatic Medicine.

This study is based on data first assembled in the “Health and Retirement Study” — a national survey that tracked the health of more than 37000 American adults over the age of 50.  That survey began in 1992. 

In this study, researchers narrowed their focus to 4600 of those participants. All were 65 years or older when they completed an optimism assessment test in 2006.  [Note: That optimism test was the same 'Life Orientation Test-Revised' referenced in our previous blog articles.] 

The cognitive health of these participants was then measured in 2008 and again in 2010, using standardized tests of cognitive function.  By the end of the study, 497 of the participants had developed signs of cognitive decline.

After analyzing the data, researchers discovered that participants who had been measured with the highest levels of optimism in 2006 had the lowest odds of cognitive impairment in 2010.  

Interestingly, a ‘dose-response’ relationship was observed. The more that participants tested positively for optimism in 2006, the less was their likelihood of cognitive decline in 2010.  

Researchers further noted: “The association between optimism and cognitive impairment was maintained after taking into account sociodemographic, health behavior, and biological factors, as well as the presence of depression and anxiety symptoms.” The health benefits of optimism did not depend on these other factors.

They hypothesized that ”optimism may have direct biological effects that promote positive health outcomes”. In other words, it's likely that an optimistic attitude has biological effects (i.e. physical effects) that support brain health over time. 

Conclusion: “People with the highest levels of optimism had the lowest odds of cognitive impairment 4 years later.” 

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[ See the 'abstract' summary of this scientific paper:  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27284699/ ]


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