Do You Have a Life Purpose?

If you do, you may be lowering your Alzheimer’s risk

People who feel a sense of purpose in their lives may have more going for them than a reason to get out of bed every morning. They may be protecting themselves from serious brain disorders.

That’s the conclusion of a study that was published last year in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago followed more than 900 senior citizens for up to seven years and concluded that those participants for whom life had meaning were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or related brain disorders.

“The interesting thing about the Chicago study is that not only are mental health and well-being positively affected by meaning and purpose, but certain biological diseases are postponed,” says Jeffrey Cummings, MD, Director of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas and Cleveland.

How does behavior have the potential to prevent dementia? The mechanism is not completely understood, he says. “We do know that certain mental states change the brain function and are associated with biochemical changes that preserve nerve cells.”

Still, it’s an important notion that one should maintain a sense of direction and purpose in life, says Dr. Cummings, who adds that the researchers’ findings are consistent with what Cleveland Clinic experts know about brain health.

For healthy aging, Dr. Cummings also suggests that you:

  • Have active social contacts outside the home
  • Engage in regular exercise or fitness activities
  • Be involved with a variety of intellectually challenging or stimulating tasks
  • Avoid depression and see your doctor if depression occurs

To make a gift supporting the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, the Neurological Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit our secure giving site or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.

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