Want a healthier future? Your partner may help as researchers have found that those who are optimistic contribute to the health of their partners, staving off the risk factors leading to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and cognitive decline as they grow old together.
“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,” said study co-author William Chopik, Assistant Professor from Michigan State University in the US.
An optimistic partner may encourage eating a salad or work out together to develop healthier lifestyles.
For example, if you quit smoking or start exercising, your partner is close to following suit within a few weeks and months.
“We found that when you look at the risk factors for what predicts things like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, a lot of them are things like living a healthy lifestyle,” Chopik said.
“Maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity are large predictors. There are some physiological markers as well. It looks like people who are married to optimists tend to score better on all of those metrics,” Chopik added.
The study, published in the Journal of Personality, followed nearly 4,500 heterosexual couples from the Health and Retirement Study for up to eight years.
The researchers found a potential link between being married to an optimistic person and preventing the onset of cognitive decline, thanks to a healthier environment at home.
“There’s a sense where optimists lead by example, and their partners follow their lead,” Chopik said.
“While there’s some research on people being jealous of their partner’s good qualities or on having bad reactions to someone trying to control you, it is balanced with other research that shows being optimistic is associated with perceiving your relationship in a positive light,” Chopik added.
The research also indicated that when couples recall shared experiences together, richer details from the memories emerge.