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Improve brain health with these strategies for maintaining a positive outlook on life

Could you, at 82 years of age, run a complete marathon (that’s 26.2 miles)? Perhaps not. However, Ginette Bedard from Howard Beach, Queens crossed the finish line of the New York Marathon not just once but repeatedly! She started running seriously when she was 69 and has been able to continually participate in this event thanks to both a diligent training program — she runs an average of three hours per day — as well as a positive attitude. Wearing a smile helps more than your physical health; positive outlooks on aging impact brain health as well. A recent Yale University study has found that keeping a good attitude about life can even reduce risk of dementia. From their control group of 4,765 people with an average age of 72, those who carried a gene variant linked to dementia — but also had positive attitudes about aging — were 50% less likely to develop the disorder than people who carried the gene but faced aging more pessimistically or fearfully. These study results may not completely surprise you, but they do serve as a powerful reminder that people who enjoy their lives can lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives. Giving full credit to Bedard’s achievements, pulling on a pair of running shoes and running three hours per day takes not only that amount of time but incredible motivation as well. A person could easily find any number of reasons for not heading outside or even to the neighborhood gym. If you’re not up for this challenge, take heart as there are other (less strenuous) ways to keep looking at life more optimistically. Consider the following tips for positive aging. Surround yourself with positive people. Positivity begets positivity! By keeping company with individuals who have good outlooks on life or believe in your goals, you cannot help but become — and remain — more positive yourself. Limit complaining. Whether it’s the long line-up for tickets at the movie theater, the slow-moving rush hour traffic you face on your way home, or the cold weather outside, are you the type of person who complains about anything and everything? Not only will others find you difficult to be around, your ongoing negativity can bring you down as well. While some bad days are to be expected, try not to wallow in self-pity for too long. Practice routine in the mornings. Waking up may not be the easiest thing to do, but how you wake up and what you do first thing in the morning can set the tone for your entire day. Your routine may be running (whether outside or on a treadmill in your basement), having meaningful conversation with your significant other, eating a good (and nutritious) breakfast, or just taking a few minutes to relax and clear your mind while sipping a cup of coffee. You may want to delay reading the daily newspaper or turning on the television news if you don’t want the possibility of disturbing or distressing news to disrupt your morning. Laugh. See a funny movie, go to a comedy show, watch humorous videos on YouTube or play with your children or grandchildren. Laughing can be good for you and can also be very contagious. Be proactive. Set goals, whether for the day, the upcoming week or for before the end of this year, and carry through on those goals. By sticking to your plan and accomplishing what you are set out to do, your outlook on life can become more positive. Learn more about our dementia care services here:

About the Author(s)

As a former co-caregiver, Rick Lauber helped and supported his own aging parents. His mother had Parkinson's and Leukemia and his father had Alzheimer's. Rick learned that caregiving is challenging and used writing to personally cope.

His stories became two books, Caregiver's Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver's Guide.

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