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December 2008 Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource Highlights Happiness, Dementia and Smoking
Date:12/9/2008

ous studies have shown that genetics accounts for up to half of individual differences in both well-being and positive personality traits, which are closely linked. And women tend to be slightly happier than men.

Life circumstances: Regardless of genetics, people respond to life events, and long-term levels of happiness may change after major life events such as marriage, divorce or the death of a loved one. Higher levels of education boost happiness. Social connectedness also increases happiness. This factor may explain why women are happier (and commit suicide less) than men, who are more likely to be socially isolated, especially after they retire.

Health: People in excellent health are almost twice as likely to be happier than those in merely good health. Poor health makes 70 percent less likely to be happy, compared with those in good health. And, a sense of well-being is linked to greater longevity and less risk of disease.

A happiness boost: Some researchers suggest focusing on intentional activities, the ones you choose to engage in mindfully and actively, as a good way to boost long-term happiness.

A Preventable Form of Dementia

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- All dementia isn't Alzheimer's -- where plaques and tangles form in brain cells for unknown reasons, eventually causing irreparable damage. A less common form of dementia, vascular cognitive impairment (VCI), can be mistaken for Alzheimer's.

There's one major difference between the two: VCI is preventable.

The December issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource provides an overview of vascular cognitive impairment, the second most common cause of dementia, and how to prevent it. VCI accounts for an estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of all dementias in older adults and occurs in 1 percent to 4 percent of all Americans over age 65.

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