With modern medicine’s fascination with technology, medicines and expensive exams it is easy to lose sight of the power that the mind has over the body when it comes to health. If you have a loved one suffering from dementia and other debilitating ailments, the importance of positive thinking becomes even greater.
But can positive thinking actually allow your loved ones to live longer and healthier? The answer is a resounding yes.
Becca Levy, PhD began to study the power of positive thinking on longevity in the 1990s. She used a body of data from 1,100 patients over the age of 50 in Oxford, Ohio who had described their state of mind over decades. Matching the patients’ responses with the dates of their deaths, she found a correlation between positive outlook and life expectancy. In her 2002 study, which she published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, those who viewed their own aging positively lived on average 7.6 years longer. Another study found that in the 9 years following a questionnaire on attitudes in the elderly, pessimists were 55%
more likely to die.
In a study published in 2012, Becca Levy, PhD found that positive attitudes aid with injury recovery. Once again, the ten-year study found that those seniors with positive opinions on their own aging and were able to recover from injuries that affected their ability to bathe, dress or walk.
Believing in positive stereotypes about aging has been shown to lower the incidence of heart disease, strengthen the immune system and avoid depression. As incredible as it sounds, thinking positive, healthy thoughts really can influence the body. But how can your loved one who may be suffering from dementia, and perhaps other debilitating conditions, maintain a positive outlook?
Perspective. Those who see old age as the decomposition of their youth can expect to experience exactly that. On the other hand, those who view their golden years as a stress-free time to reflect on a life that is both full of accomplishments yet still not complete find themselves living their days with renewed energy.
Pursue Interests. An active and interested mind is a healthy mind and a healthy mind means a healthy body too. Encourage your loved on to rekindle their love of an old hobby or explore a new one. Whether it be handcrafts, puzzles or taking dace lessons, the important factors are interest and challenge.
Write. Keeping a journal can serve to reinforce positive beliefs and a sense of self. Writing of past memories can also help to slow the progression of memory diseases and maintain an optimistic outlook on aging.
Maintain Links. It is important to communicate with your loved one as often as possible. Take advantage of any opportunities to bring the family together and to connect socially. We humans are social creatures and the connections we maintain with friends and family are hugely positive forces.
Spirituality. Encourage your loved one to pursue their spiritual beliefs as a source of positive strength. Hope and
As it turns out, the centuries old quotation from the Buddha, “the mind is everything; what you think, you become” is as true today as it was then.