The power of positivity in later life

Blog

It’s easy as you get older, and your health and independence start taking a knock, to allow negativity to inform you approach to life. Doing so can impact your relationships with family and friends and have a profound effect on your physical and mental wellbeing. Staying positive, however, comes with a host of benefits – and there’s research to prove it.

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. – Helen Keller

Reduces the risk of dementia
A 2018 study by the Yale School of Public Health found that seniors who held positive beliefs about growing older were less likely to develop dementia. Interestingly, even those who were genetically at a greater risk of developing the disease were almost 50% less likely to develop it than those who held negative beliefs about growing old.

Improves mental and physical health
A study conducted at Trinity College in Dublin found that approaching old age with a negative attitude led to physical and cognitive decline. Conversely, those who approached it with a positive attitude saw an improvement in their cognitive ability.

Lowers the incidence of heart attacks and depression
According to WebMD.com, “When you choose to be optimistic and grateful, your mind and body respond in kind. People with a rosier outlook live longer and have fewer heart attacks and depression than more negative people.”

He who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition, youth and age are equally a burden. – Plato

While society often focuses on the negative aspects of aging, there is plenty to be positive about in old age. Here are some of the pluses – perhaps give some thought to what you can add to this list?

  • The many life lessons you’ve learnt over the years.
  • The wisdom you’ve gained as a result of those lessons.
  • Being able to spend your time any way you like.
  • Making fewer mistakes thanks to the experience you’ve gained.
  • Spending quality time with your friends, family and community.

So, how can you adopt and maintain a positive attitude in later life?

1. Make it a choice
Approaching each day with a positive attitude is often a conscious decision. But like anything you start – and stick to – the good news is that being positive eventually becomes your default setting.

2. Practice gratitude
Research shows that appreciating the good in your life can have positive emotional and interpersonal effects. So, make a list of everyone and everything you’re grateful for and take a few moments to reflect on them each day.

3. Engage your community
Spending too much time alone with your thoughts can open the door to negative thoughts and feelings. Instead, surround yourself with positive people and let their positivity rub off on you. If you’re part of an Evergreen community, take advantage of our warm, welcoming Lifestyle Centres to share a cup of coffee or a meal with a friend or neighbour, join in a card game, or get together with fellow villagers around shared hobbies and interests.

Sources
yale.edu
psychologytoday.com