The anti-dementia attitude

If we are to believe motivational posters originating from the 1980s, then your attitude determines your altitude. Mind you if posters of the 1980s are to be a guide to living then most female tennis players prefer not to wear underwear at the same time as having a propensity to lifting the back of their skirt and dogs have a secret life of snooker playing that goes largely unobserved. Putting aside misgivings as to the veracity of 1980s poster-philosophy the evidence is that your attitude does influence your life and now a new study has found that it even impacts your chance of developing dementia as you age.

To establish this researchers recruited subjects aged between 60 and 70 who were primed to either feel older or younger than other people taking part in the study. They did this by telling some of the people being primed to feel “old” that the participants ranged in age from 40 to 70 which would place them at the upper end of the age spectrum. Those in the younger group were told that the participant’s age range was between 60 and 90.

Having primed them, all participants were given an article to read that either focussed on the effects of age on memory loss or on the impact of ageing on general cognitive ability. The participants then completed a series of tests including a dementia screening test called the “Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination – Revised”.

Among those who were primed to see themselves as older and who had read articles saying that ageing was associated with a decline in cognitive ability 70 per cent of people met the criteria for dementia. By stark contrast, among people encouraged to think of themselves as young and who had read more positive articles the rate of dementia was only fourteen per cent.

So your perception of your age has a major impact on your mental performance even to the extent of “creating” dementia. To twist the old saying, whether you think you are old or think you are young: you’re right.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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