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Married to an optimist?

Having an optimistic partner can increase one’s chances of reaching a healthy old age, recent research found. [Adobestock photo]

If so, your odds of a healthy old age are better, say scientists from the University of Michigan. They recently completed an eight-year study which found that seniors who are optimistic often contribute to the well-being of their partners, helping them to avoid many of the risk factors which can lead to cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as couples age together.

The researchers found that older adults with an optimistic outlook see themselves as having more control over their futures. As a result, they are more likely to make lifestyle choices such as working out regularly, eating a well-balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. These behaviors, and the positive attitude behind them, were found to be predictors for the future health of their partners as well.

“We spend a lot of time with our partners,” said William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at the university and co-author of the study. “They might encourage us to exercise, eat healthier or remind us to take our medicine. When your partner is optimistic and healthy, it can translate to similar outcomes in your own life. You actually do experience a rosier future by living longer and staving off cognitive illnesses.”

The study followed nearly 4,500 couples who participated in the university’s Health and Retirement Study, which surveys a representative sample of more than 26,000 Americans over 50 every two years.

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