Avoid dementia, ‘think young’

We’ve recently heard the theory that ‘thinking ourselves young’ may have an effect on longevity, but now new research suggests seniors who regard themselves as ‘younger’ are also reportedly less likely to meet the criteria for dementia.

The study suggested those who consider themselves ‘old’ were five times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

The study included 68 people, aged 60 to 70 years, who were divided into two groups. One group was told the study participants ranged in age from 40 to 70 years and that they were at the upper end of the age range. The other group was told the participants ranged in age from 60 to 90 years and were at the lower end of the age range.

All of the participants were then given one of two articles to read, which either described how ageing affected memory or how ageing affected general thinking ability. The participants then underwent a standard dementia screening test.

“Our research shows the effect of age perceptions on performance can be dramatic, and that seeing oneself as 'older' significantly increases a person's risk of being diagnosed with dementia on such tests. It highlights the importance of taking a person's attitude towards their age into account when assessing for dementia,” study lead author Dr Catherine Haslam, of the University of Exeter, in England, said in a university news release.

The study was scheduled for presentation at the International Conference on Social Identity and Health, hosted by the University of Exeter onTuesday, 26 June 2012. However, the researchers stated the data and conclusions should be viewed as “preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal”.

What effect does ‘thinking young’ have on you? Share your thoughts on positive ageing by commenting in the box below.