Keep your face to the sun, and you will never see the shadows!” This widely known Helen Keller quote perfectly sums up the conscious choice to stay focused on the positive things in your life. But is there more to having a sunny disposition than just “being a happy person?”
Maintaining a positive attitude affects every area of your life, from your health to your relationships. But surprisingly, it also has a huge impact on how well you age.
A positive attitude can mean a longer, happier life.
According to the Mayo Clinic, your attitude has a direct effect on your health. One of the primary areas affected is your stress level. Optimistic people manage their stress more effectively. This means that all of the negative effects of stress – like increased blood pressure – are greatly reduced in positive people.
So what does this mean for seniors?
Believe it or not, your outlook on life may have a direct effect on a number of health factors. Happier people tend to have:
- lower levels of inflammation
- lower cholesterol levels
- reduced chance of developing cardiovascular disease
These benefits alone should make a positive disposition more appealing for everyone, regardless of their age. But for seniors, there is one side effect of being a positive person that can make all the difference – improved mental health.
TIME magazine shared research from the Yale School of Public Health. Scientists at Yale have discovered a direct link between how one feels about aging, and how well our brains ward off Alzheimer’s disease. The study, which took 25 years to complete, showed that people with a negative perspective of aging tended to have a higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s. People who viewed aging as a normal and natural part of life seemed to have much lower occurrences of the disease.
Choose joy. Because yes, it is a choice!
So what does a positive attitude look like? Well, contrary to what some people believe, it’s not about ignoring problems or refusing to deal with life’s troubles. People with a positive outlook still face struggles and challenges. The difference lies in how they choose to think about those issues.
People with a positive attitude:
- Practice gratitude: They’re grateful for what they have, and don’t spend time lamenting what they don’t have.
- Positive self-talk: They don’t call themselves names when they make mistakes, or label themselves with negative titles like “idiot” or “moron.”
- Spend time with other happy people: They spend time with others who feed their positivity, and avoid those who try to bring them down.
- Forgive: Whether it’s forgiving themselves, or forgiving others, letting go of grudges and resentments makes a big difference to how happy one can be.
- Focus on the positive: They make a conscious choice to look for the best in a situation, or expect the best possible outcome. They also focus on the good in people instead of focusing on their shortcomings.
Aging with a Happy Heart
Psychology Today published an article written by Christopher Bergland, the world-class endurance athlete and coach, who claims that a positive attitude about aging can reduce frailty in seniors. Frailty, he says, has been directly linked to lower cognitive abilities, and can often lead to dementia.
What can you or your senior loved one do to improve the odds of aging well?
Beyond maintaining a positive outlook, older adults can stay active and engaged in a lifestyle that promotes joyful living. A senior living community helps make it easier to live and thrive during retirement years. Great community events, wellness programs, opportunities for lasting friendships, and a focus on life enrichment activities are a part of everyday life.
Do You Have Questions about Assisted Living?
We understand the decision to move to a senior living community is a big step. If you have questions about independent living, assisted living, or memory care services, we can help. Call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you for answers or support today!