Have a positive outlook on life? It may help you hold on to memories as you age

accreditation
  • Memory loss is an unpleasant reality for many elderly people
  • There is no cure for diseases involving memory loss, such as dementia
  • Researchers found that being enthusiastic and cheerful could decrease memory decline in old age

The memory loss that often accompanies old age is unsettling, especially since there is no known cure or disease-modifying treatment. Combating memory decline is therefore of great importance, especially among ageing populations. 

Research has shown that positive affect (feeling enthusiastic, attentive, proud, active) is associated with improved health, but also that positive affect and cognitive ability tend to decrease over time.

A recent study investigated the relationship between positive affect and memory (immediate and delayed recall).

Assessments

A team of researchers drew information from a nine-year longitudinal study that involved a national sample of 991 middle-aged and older US adults.

The study spanned three periods (1995 and 1996; 2004 and 2006; 2013 and 2014), requiring participants to partake in assessments where they recalled positive emotions that they experienced during the prior month.

The last two assessments tested participants' memory performance, where they had to recall words either immediately after being presented with them, or after a delay of 15 minutes. 

Researchers used the information gathered from recalling positive experiences and the tests of memory performance to examine the association of positive affect and memory decline.

Findings

According to Claudia Haase, senior author of the paper, the results of the study show that memory does in fact decline with age.

She went on to say: “However, individuals with higher levels of positive affect had a less steep memory decline over the course of almost a decade.

”These findings open up the possibility for future study to identify how positive affect positively influences memory in older populations.

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Gauteng DA leader Solly Msimanga says the party's voters want it to explore conditional coalition talks with the ANC. 
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
It's a step in the right direction. An ANC-DA coalition would be the most stable option for SA
33% - 2779 votes
The DA should focus on working with all opposition parties, including the EFF, to unseat the ANC
15% - 1242 votes
The DA should rather remain in opposition than form a coalition with the ANC or the EFF
52% - 4405 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.09
-0.4%
Rand - Pound
20.66
+0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.80
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.54
+0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.0%
Gold
1,754.60
0.0%
Silver
21.61
0.0%
Palladium
1,856.61
0.0%
Platinum
984.00
0.0%
Brent Crude
83.63
-2.0%
Top 40
66,754
-0.0%
All Share
73,151
+0.0%
Resource 10
71,441
-0.1%
Industrial 25
87,347
-0.2%
Financial 15
16,370
+0.4%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE