Get Off Your Duff and Get Involved
A recent report in Archives of General Psychiatry (vol. 67, p. 304) suggests that having a purpose in life reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Over nine hundred participants greater than age eighty were evaluated by questionnaire in the Rush Memory and Aging Project for a seven year period. Initially, none had clinical evidence of Alzheimer’s. At the end of the study, 155 participants were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Participants who had a strong sense of life purpose were 2.4 times more likely to not have Alzheimer’s. Those participants had a reduced risk of MCI and slower rate of mental decline. The study concluded that having a goal-directed purpose can lead to improved mental and physical health as well as longevity.