Aging Gracefully: Positive views on aging linked to reduced dementia risk

Aging Gracefully: Positive views on aging linked to reduced dementia risk

Can a positive attitude about getting older impact your risk for dementia? A recently published PLOS ONE study from the Yale School of Public Health found that older adults with positive culture-based age beliefs were less likely to develop dementia than their peers with more negative views on old age.

The researchers investigated whether cultural views on aging impacted the risk for developing dementia among older people. The researchers studied a group of 4,765 people, with an average age of 72 years, who were free of dementia at the start of the study. About a quarter of the people in their sample carried a gene variant that is known to be a high risk factor for dementia, APOE ε4.

Over the four-year study duration, the researchers found that APOE ε4 carriers with positive beliefs about aging had a 2.7% risk of developing dementia, compared to a 6.1% risk for those with negative beliefs about aging.

“We found that positive age beliefs can reduce the risk of one of the most established genetic risk factors of dementia,” said lead author Becca Levy. “This makes a case for implementing a public health campaign against ageism and negative age beliefs.”

Reference:  Levy BR, Slade MD, Pietrzak RH, Ferrucci L (2018) Positive age beliefs protect against dementia even among elders with high-risk gene. PLoS ONE 13(2): e0191004.

Image Credit: joeannenah, Flickr


Tessa is the Journal Media Manager at PLOS. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with degrees in Rhetoric and Music. She can be reached by email at and on Twitter at @tessagregs.

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