It is widely believed that memory loss associated with aging is irreversible. However, a new study says people who embrace aging positively may recover from cognitive decline.

Cognitive decline in older adults includes difficulty in thinking, memory, concentration, and other brain functions. The cognitive impairment may strike all of a sudden or gradually progress with age.

Common reasons for cognitive decline

1. Certain medications used as sedatives, tranquilizers, and anticholinergic purposes may interfere with the proper functioning of the brain

2. A deficiency of vitamin B12 or folate may affect brain function

3. Hormonal imbalances caused by estrogen and other sex hormones may impact cognitive function

4. Kidney or liver dysfunction can cause imbalances in blood chemistry that can affect the brain

5. Neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's can cause cognitive decline

Can cognitive decline be reversed?

Earlier researchers have found that positive age beliefs reduced stress caused by cognitive challenges and improved cognitive performance and self-confidence about it.

"Most people assume there is no recovery from MCI (mild cognitive impairment), but in fact half of those who have it do recover. Little is known about why some recover while others don't. That's why we looked at positive age beliefs, to see if they would help provide an answer," Becca Levy, a lead author of the study, conducted at Yale School of Public Health, explained the purpose of the research.

The study evaluated 1,716 participants aged 65 and above for MCI and positive age beliefs. The participants were prompted with statements like "The older I get, the more useless I feel," and were asked to mark their degree of agreement against it.

The researchers found those who showed positive age beliefs were 30% more likely to recover from cognitive impairment than those who held negative age beliefs, irrespective of the severity of the cognitive decline. The time for recovery was also quicker in people with positive age beliefs.

They also found that the participants who stayed positive about aging were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment over 12 years.

"Considering that positive age beliefs can be strengthened, our findings suggest that age-belief interventions at individual and societal levels could increase the number of people who experience cognitive recovery," the researchers wrote.

old age
The researchers found that those participants who showed positive age beliefs were 30% more likely to recover from cognitive impairment than those who held negative age beliefs. pixabay