New Study Shows Positivity Slows Memory Loss

Attitude matters. A new study published in the Psychological Science journal adds more proof that people who tend to be positive, cheerful and enthusiastic experience less memory loss over time.

How the Study Worked

Researchers from Northwestern University’s Life-span Development Laboratory recruited nearly 1,000 people from across the country to participate in a national study to see if general attitude and memory loss were connected. The research team followed the participants, who were middle-aged or older, for nearly 10 years.

At regular checkpoints, the participants were asked to describe their positive emotions over the previously 30 days and take a memory test. The test involved giving the participants a list of words and asking them to recall them immediately and again 15 minutes later. Participants who had a higher level of positive affect had a lower level of memory decline over almost a decade.

The medical term for being upbeat is “positive affect”. It’s the oppositive of “negative affect”, which comes from frequent feelings of sadness and anxiousness.

Building on Other Research

According to the Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, these additional emotions can contribute to a positive affect: joviality, self-assurance and attentiveness. The authors also detail how:

  • Low levels of positive affect contribute to depression and low satisfaction with work and marriage
  • High levels of positive affect contribute to better physical health, including greater immunity to infections

Another study published in The American Psychologist journal showed a relationship between positive affect and flourishing in life. The researchers defined “to flourish” as “to live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience.” They describe the opposite of flourishing as languishing, a hollow or empty feeling that leads to depression and curbs daily activities.

The authors go on to cite a host of other studies that connect positive affect to positive outcomes such as:

  • Increased creativity
  • More resilience to crisis
  • Better recovery from cardiovascular problems
  • Less inflammation from stress
  • Lower risk of stroke
  • Longer life

Take a look at our blog for five more ways to support senior longevity. Sonata Senior Living in Florida offers independent, assisted living and memory care lifestyles in communities designed to promote independence and prevent isolation. We provide activities, events, gourmet dining, wellness programs and life enrichment through music and classes. Our services also include specialized, around-the-clock memory care for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

To learn more about how Sonata can help your loved one live their best life while slowing memory loss, contact us today→ or schedule a visit →

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