1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN

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"Man's real life is happy, chiefly because he is ever expecting that it soon will be so," said Edgar Allan Poe. Better known for his dark tales than for a sunny disposition, Poe may have nevertheless uncovered an ingredient of good health: optimism. In a recently published study of 311 caregivers (all spouses caring for people with Parkinson disease) whose levels of depression and overall health were monitored over 10 years, those with higher baseline levels of pessimism (according to various psychological instruments) had significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms and poorer physical health at the start of the study than did their more optimistic counterparts; and over the following 10 years, the less hopeful caregivers saw a faster decline in their health than did the more sanguine ones.


These findings, say the researchers, illustrate the importance of determining a care-giver's level of pessimism early on and allow clinicians to intervene if necessary. -Dalia Sofer


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