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Brain Health

Why Your Purpose In Life Matters

sense of purpose reduces alzheimer’s

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In a recent Balance Point article, you learned that not having a purpose in life is a major stressor.

Now, research shows just how important having a purpose is. The study* looked at how older people with or without a strong sense of purpose functioned as they got older.

What did they find? People with a purpose had less memory loss as they age. They also had less of the other diseases of aging.

This finding highlights just how important it is to have a purpose.

You might think that having a purpose somehow protected the brain from physical changes. But as it turns out, it didn’t.

During the long-term study, 246 of the 951 people died. This gave researchers the opportunity to look at the brain cells of both types of people. They found that both purposeful and non-purpose people had similar amounts of physical damage.

Researchers concluded that having a purpose reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s. But they couldn’t explain why this didn’t show in the brain structures.

Here is a diagram showing what they found. (Note that “AD” on the diagram means Alzheimer’s Disease):

Purpose & Alzheimer's

The diagram shows that having a purpose cuts the risk of Alzheimer’s by 2/3.

In other words, how physical brain damage affects you depends on whether or not you have a life’s goal. That’s huge. And it’s especially huge if you consider that other “old age” diseases were also reduced. That included heart attacks.

My recommendation? Find a purpose for your life no matter what age you are.

All the best to you for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

Article source:
JAMA Psychiatry

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