How we think about growing older can affect more than our moods. It can also affect our chances of developing Alzheimer's, according to a new study.
If you tend to approach old age with negative stereotypes ("No wonder I'm cranky! I'm getting on in years!") you're at a higher risk for dementia. The opposite is true for those who had a more positive outlook.
Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health arrived at this conclusion after studying long-term data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. People with dementia had a hippocampus, the part of the brain that stores memory, that was THREE times smaller than those who were dementia-free. Their brains also had more plaque from built-up protein clusters, another marker for Alzheimer's.
Why would your mindset change your brain physically? The link comes from your response to stress, one of the researchers told the Washington Post. Thinking about things more positively can serve as a buffer against stress, lowering your blood pressure and heart rate, and decreasing the flow of stress hormones to your brain.
If you approach your golden years with a certain amount of dread, try to swap in some positives. You're not older, you're wiser. You're not weaker or more forgetful; you're focused and resilient.
See? It's easy!