A new study from Michigan State University suggests that having an optimistic partner may be a key aspect of preventing the development of Alzheimer’s or Alzheimer’s disease. Lifestyle factors are thought to play an important role in whether someone develops dementia, and studies have found that having a healthy and happy partner increases someone’s chances of improving their lifestyle risk factors, reducing their chances of developing the disease.
Many poor lifestyle habits are associated with an increased risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, including poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking and obesity. The new study found that having a healthy and happy partner may reduce a person’s risk of being affected by any of these risk factors. For example, a healthy partner may encourage them to choose a healthy diet or exercise with them.
According to the university, the study involved about 4,500 heterosexual couples. At the time of the study, the participants had been married for up to eight years. Optimistic spouses are associated with a healthier family environment, which in turn is associated with healthier lifestyle habits and reduces the risk of mental weakness later in life.
Study co-author William Chopik explains:
We spent a lot of time with our partner. They may encourage us to exercise, eat healthily, or remind us to take medication. When your partner is optimistic and healthy, it can translate into similar results in your life. In fact, you can actually experience a better future by living longer and avoiding cognitive illness.
Even if you’re not a natural optimist, researchers say, it’s possible to train yourself to have a more positive view of life. The study suggests that having an optimistic partner in a happy lifestyle may not only improve daily life, but also make people happier and healthier in the final stages of life.