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Stay Positive

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia when she was in her late 60’s. I am like many adult children who have a parent who was diagnosed with dementia – I wonder at some point if this will be me. At 58 I find myself being very conscious about remembering people’s names and paying close attention to everything said during a conversation. When I can’t remember, I think “oh boy, here it comes.”

I read an article in “Science Daily” titled: Think Memory Worsens with Age? Then Yours Probably Will. A team of researchers from North Carolina University did a research project with older adults. The study showed older adults who think they will perform poorly on memory tests actually scored much worse than seniors who don’t buy into the stereotype about aging and memory loss. What this means is an older adult’s ability to remember suffers when negative stereotypes are “activated” in certain situations.

When older adults were preparing to take a test for their memory they actually performed poorly when they were told in advance ‘they shouldn’t be surprised if the outcome would not be good.’ Memory suffers if older adults feel they are being looked down on because of their age. Unfortunately, this situation might be a part of an older adult’s everyday experience. Being concerned about what others think can have a negative effect not only on test performance but how we live our lives.

The positive side is older adults who felt good about aging and didn’t buy into the stigma of aging performed well on the test. In other words, if you are confident aging will not ruin your memory, you are more likely not only to perform well on a memory-related test, but to live in the same manner.

While there is no guarantee I will not inherit the disease my mother suffered, I can live my life in a positive manner by not letting the stigma of aging interfere with how I live my life. These wellness steps certainly cannot hurt – in fact; they may help quite a bit.

Kathleen Weston
Director of Hospice