An article published in the Health Day News on March 2nd by Steven Reinberg discussed the results of a study which showed a correlation between purpose in life and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The article that follows is an adaptation from that report.
“As the population ages and dementia becomes a more frequent diagnosis, there is increasing impetus to determine the causes of the disease, associated risk factors and how to prevent it,” explained study co-author Dr. Aron S. Buchman, an associate professor in the department of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
The study looked at the positive aspects of life and their possible effect on keeping dementia at bay. In the study, 951 older people without dementia were asked to respond to statements such as: “I feel good when I think of what I have done in the past and what I hope to do in the future.” After an average of 4 years of follow-up, 16.3% of the people in the study developed Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that people who responded most positively to statements about their lives were the least likely to develop the condition. Also, people who said they had more purposeful lives were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment and had a slower rate of cognitive decline.
People who scored 4.2 out of 5 on the purpose-in-life measure were about 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, compared with people who scored 3.0, the study found.
Dr. Buchman stated that “the importance of the study is this doesn’t prove anything, but it points researchers in the direction of a link between purpose in life and cognition in late life. He also added that “more social activity, more physical activity, higher cognitive activities, high purpose in life – all these psychosocial factors seem to be linked with longer life, decreased mortality, decreased disability and provide important clues to a public health approach to try to increase independence in older people in later life.”
William H. Theis, chief medical and scientific officer at the Alzheimer’s Association, said the new study “contributes to the literature that says there is a linkage between behavior and disease. The study begs the question whether there is more Alzheimer’s disease because more people have a lower sense of purpose, or is a lower sense of purpose an early, subtle, sign of dementia.”
The retirement communities of Retirement Unlimited, Inc. provide a wide variety of social activities to provide even more purpose in your life. In addition, some communities also provide care for persons with dementia. Take a virtual tour of our communities to find the activities that suit you best!