Leesburg Senior Home Care Blog

Could Optimism Lengthen Your Parent’s Life?

By Kaltoon Essa

Is your older family member a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person? If you answered glass half full, you’re in luck! A recent study shows that people with an optimistic point of view tend to live longer than people who see the world in a negative light.

Study Links Optimism to Longer Lifespan

A study led by clinical research psychologist Lewina Lee from the U.S. National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System looked at how being optimistic might affect a person’s ability to reach “exceptional longevity,” which the researchers considered to be 85 or older. The study involved approximately 70,000 women and 1,400 men. The women in the study were between the ages of 58 to 86 when they first joined the study. Researchers followed them for 10 years. The men were between 41 and 90 and were followed for 30 years.

The results of the study were essentially the same for both men and women, showing that gender does not impact optimism’s affect on longevity. According to the study, optimistic people were 50 to 70 percent more likely to reach age 85. In addition, they were between 11 and 15 percent more likely to live longer in general. Optimism was also a good indicator of longer lifespan even in people who did not have healthy lifestyle habits.

Tips for Increasing Optimism

If your aging relative isn’t naturally optimistic, there are ways to improve their outlook. Some tips for increasing optimism are:

  • Focus on Now: Thinking about what the future may bring or mistakes from the past can lead to negative thinking. Encourage the senior to focus on today and the things they have to be thankful for.
  • Look for What’s Good: When your older family member starts to complain, challenge them to find something good that happened that day, no matter how small. Maybe they ate their favorite food for lunch or got a phone call from a friend. Whatever it is, use it to remind them that life is good.
  • Decrease Contact with Negative People: Being around people who tend to be negative can also bring the older adult down. If possible, try to limit the amount of time they spend around people who complain and put more cheerful and encouraging people in their life.

Senior care can help older adults to be more optimistic. Senior care providers are cheerful, friendly people who can be a positive presence in the older adult’s life. Senior care providers can encourage optimism by focusing conversations on the good things that are happening in your aging relative’s life, asking them to identify things that make them happy and doing fun activities with them.


If you are considering senior care in Purcellville, VA, for an elderly loved one, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers Home Care in Leesburg. (703) 297-4642.