It Turns Out that Having a Purpose in Life Is Good for Your Health
Having observed many older adults -- age 65 and over -- during my thirty years of nursing, there were a couple couple conclusions that I'd reached: 1.) The spunky, spirited folk seemed to live longer than their more placid counterparts and 2.) Having a goal or a purpose in life seemed to increase longevity. My first observation has yet to be proven scientifically, but I was excited to learn that my second conclusion was close to the truth.
What has been proven to be beneficial about having a purpose in life? Beyond the rewards of the journey and the destination of the goal itself, it turns out that the brains of older individuals who have a purpose in life are different in one significant way. Autopsies performed on over 200 older adults showed that for those with a purpose in life, even though they had the plagues and tangles of Alzheimer's disease, their brain somehow kept their cognitive function intact. ( Archives of General Psychiatry, May 2012 )
It is thought that some protective mechanism of the brain is enacted in those people who live life with a purpose. What that mechanism is or exactly what causes it to be enacted are yet unknown, but for now the important thing to know is that as we grow older, we may well have some ways to stave off the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. That's empowering information!
Image Credit » https://pixabay.com/en/old-age-pensioners-elder-life-style-957492/ by Pavlofox