There are many things you can do to try and keep your memory in good working order as you get older. Most of these you know already – eat healthily, exercise regularly, manage your stress levels, stop smoking and avoid drinking too much alcohol are the obvious ones.
But researchers from Northwestern University believe the way you think can have an impact on how well your memory functions too. Writing in the journal Psychological Science, the experts discovered people who think positively are more likely to keep their memory sharp when they’re older than those who are less enthusiastic or cheerful.
They came to this conclusion by analysing information on almost a thousand middle-aged and older people in the US between 1995 and 2014. The participants had to record all their positive emotions for 30 days, then complete a series of memory tests.
And guess what? The test results showed, unsurprisingly, that the volunteers’ memory function performed less effectively as they got older. But memory function in those who had the most positive emotions declined at a lower rate. As the paper’s lead author, Emily Hittner, said: “Individuals with higher levels of positive affect had a less steep memory decline over the course of almost a decade.”
Even if you’re not a naturally positive person, you can train yourself to think more glass-half-full. Just fake it till you make it.