The adage that Age is a State of Mind may hold more weight than just a cheerful sentiment to carry us through older age. A recent study of nearly 6,000 American seniors found that those who felt older than their age were more likely to develop dementia and memory problems.
The study, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, suggests a link between depression and dementia. In contrast, participating in activities that make seniors feel younger can help protect against a decline in memory.
Research participants, aged 56 to 98, began the study with no cognitive problems. Their memory and thinking skills were tested and they each completed half of a survey about how old they felt. The same tests were repeated between two and four years later, along with the second half of the survey. Participants were also asked about symptoms of depression, sports or other activities they participated in and if they had diabetes or a history of smoking.
Based on the results, feeling older than your age instead of younger could increase the odds of developing dementia by up to 30 per cent. Although researchers accounted for sex, race and age, the study did not take into account the toll stress or other health problems take on well being. A positive attitude, while clearly beneficial to overall health, cannot always prevent cognitive decline.