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Can a positive outlook on life prevent dementia? According to new research, the answer is “No, but…”

Scientists from Northwestern University and the University of California, Davis have found that individuals with a more optimistic outlook on life are less likely to show symptoms of dementia, even when they have the disease. The researchers were shocked to discover that some people with extensive physical evidence of dementia in their brains showed little impairment on the cognitive tests.

Up until now, the assumption was that the cognitive tests reflected any pathological changes in the brain. The new thought is that people who are identified as “positive, extroverted and conscientious” for Big Five personality traits may be better equipped to navigate the challenges of cognitive decline. Either consciously or unconsciously, they find ways to work around their impairments. As a result, these people tend to be higher functioning and may go undiagnosed for dementia during their lifetime.

Keep in mind that having a positive attitude can not halt the physical progression of dementia, but it may influence the impact of the disease on the individual’s quality of life. With this in mind, can you share any exercises or practices that help you feel more positive, even in the face of challenges?