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Age Positivity Can Stop Memory Loss

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are 30 percent more likely to reverse symptoms if they think positively about ageing, according to a study carried out by the Yale School of Public Health.

Elderly couple watching the sun set

Mild cognitive impairment is a condition which causes memory loss and difficulty in thinking clearly. Symptoms might include forgetting events, or often losing things. It is mostly diagnosed in people over 60, and often leads to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

MCI is usually considered a one-way process, but according to Professor Becca Levy, lead author of the study, that’s not the case at all, “Most people assume there is no recovery from MCI, but in fact half of those who have it do recover.”

The study was conducted over twelve years and involved 1,716 participants aged 65 and above. Results showed that those who came to the study with MCI were 30 percent more likely to make a full recovery if they were upbeat about ageing. They were also likely to recover two years faster than those with more negative age beliefs (such as “The older I get, the more useless I feel”).

In even better good news, those who came to the study without MCI were also far more likely to stave it off completely if they felt more age-positive, regardless of their physical health or age.

Factors such as age, race and gender have previously been examined for links to recovery, but this is the first study to look at cultural factors - in this case, beliefs about ageing.



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