As we age, many of us experience mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Symptoms include increased difficulty in thinking and memory, frequently forgetting appointments, or losing items more often. Nearly half of older persons with MCI regain normal cognition. The reason for this recovery is still a mystery.

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health administered a subscale of the Philadelphia Geriatric Morale Scale to 1,716 participants aged 65 years.This scale measures someone’s attitude toward aging. The positive age-belief assessment included questions like the following:

  •  “​Do things keep getting worse as you get older?”
  •  “​Do you feel that as you get older you are less useful?”
  • “​Are you as happy now as you were when you were younger?”

Results showed that participants with positive-age beliefs to start with were more likely to experience cognitive recovery from mild cognitive impairment than those with negative-age beliefs. The amount of time for cognitive recovery was also shorter for participants with positive-age beliefs versus those with negative-age beliefs.

Overall, the study authors suggest that fostering positive-age beliefs and attitudes may be highly beneficial in improving and maintaining cognitive function into old age. Societies and individuals can begin to cultivate these beliefs.

M​ore research is warranted to fully understand the roles of cultural beliefs on cognitive outcomes.

[Manny Radomski: Excerpted from: Levy BR, Slade MD. Role of positive age
beliefs in recovery from mild cognitive impairment among older persons. JAMA
Networks Open/Geriatrics. 2023;6(4):e237707.]