In a new study, researchers found that optimistic people may contribute to the health of their partners.
They examined 4,500 couples and found that having an optimistic partner may stave off the risk factors leading to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive decline as when growing old together.
The research was conducted by a team at Michigan State University and Harvard University.
The study followed couples from the Health and Retirement Study for up to eight years.
The researchers found a potential link between being married to an optimistic person and preventing the onset of cognitive decline, thanks to a healthier environment at home.
The research also indicates that when couples recall shared experiences together, richer details from the memories emerge.
The team says an optimistic partner may encourage eating a salad or work out together to develop healthier lifestyles.
For example, if people quit smoking or start exercising, their partners are close to the following suit within a few weeks and months.
The researchers say maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity are large predictors for a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There are some physiological markers as well.
It looks like people who are married to optimists tend to score better on all of those metrics.
With all of its benefits, is optimism something that can be prescribed? While there is a heritable component to optimism, the team says there is some evidence to suggest that it’s a trainable quality.
Across the board, everyone benefits from a healthy dose of optimism from their partner.
The lead author of the study is William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University.
The study is published in the International Journal of Behavioral Development.
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