It’s time to forget about forgetting.
Older adults who routinely assess their ideas, feelings, and behaviour may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers recently discovered that just 10 minutes of daily self-reflection could have a major positive impact on cognition and brain function.
Even though there is presently no cure for dementia, researchers suggest the discoveries may one day lead to psychological treatments that lower the risk of developing the disease.
Data from two clinical trials, involving 259 participants around the age of 70, were analysed by a group of academics led by University College London experts.
Participants provided their opinions on reflection in response to questions that gauged how frequently they consider and attempt to comprehend their feelings.
People who engaged in more self-reflection had better memory, concentration, and problem-solving abilities, as well as better brain health, according to the findings published in the journal Neurology.
‘There is a growing body of evidence finding that positive psychological factors, such as purpose in life and conscientiousness, may reduce the risk of dementia,’ said lead author Harriet Demnitz-King.
‘Because it is not dependent on physical health or socioeconomic factors, anyone can engage in self-reflection and potentially increase how much they self-reflect.’
They propose that setting aside some time each day to reflect kindly and without judgement on work, relationships, and social encounters could reduce the risk of dementia.
‘If self-reflection does seem to have a positive effect on brain function, there’s a chance one day we could reduce the risk of dementia with psychological treatments that help people build healthy thought patterns,’ said Dr Richard Oakley, associate director of research at Alzheimer’s Society.
In 2020, the world’s leading cause of death is COVID-19 followed by Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people living with dementia is expected to reach 1.6 million by 2040.