In a new study from the University of Michigan, researchers found feeling happy about life slowed the cognitive decline among older adults.
They found that the risks of developing cognitive impairment, such as dementia, were lower in those with better psychological well-being.
The finding suggests that positive psychology has strong benefits on cognitive functions.
In the study, data came from a subset of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey.
The sample included nearly 9,500 respondents aged 60 and older without any cognitive impairments at baseline (2002). The respondents were interviewed five times between 2002 and 2014.
About 2,640 respondents had onset of cognitive impairment at one of the follow-up interviews, and the numbers slightly increased over time, from nearly 11% during the 2002-2005 interval to 13.3% in the 2011-2014 interval.
The team says the findings have implications for policy and practice regarding supporting older people to preserve cognitive function in older age, given that psychological well-being is modifiable.
In addition, enhancing the psychological well-being of older adults not only improves their quality of life, but may also lessen the burden and cost associated with cognitive impairment.
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The study is published in the Journal of Aging and Health. One author of the study is Lydia Li.
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