By in Health & Fitness

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!

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Image Credit » by Pavlofox

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6snowroses.6doves4peace wrote on December 1, 2015, 8:10 PM

A purpose in life not only improves our physical being, but our spiritual, emotional and mental being as well. This is great to know!

VinceSummers wrote on December 1, 2015, 8:13 PM

Yes, a purpose. And the better the purpose, doubtless the better the success. BTW, it's plaque, rather than plague. A typo, I'm sure.

BarbRad wrote on December 1, 2015, 8:33 PM

i think people deteriorate physically when they beleive they have no purpose. People who see no reason to keep living often don't bother to eat right or get any exercise. This also works against their mental health.

wolfgirl569 wrote on December 1, 2015, 9:19 PM

I think often times having a purpose and being spunky go together as you get older. It takes spunk not to give up

LeaPea2417 wrote on December 1, 2015, 10:22 PM

I have thought this. My own Grandmother who lived to be almost 97 had many things to keep her active in her older age. I am sure it led her to living longer.

alexdg1 wrote on December 1, 2015, 11:39 PM

I think that is what happened with my mom, BarbRad . She lost her sense of purpose when she got seriously ill in 2010 and did not do much to rehabilitate herself.

Paulie wrote on December 2, 2015, 6:32 AM

I completely agree that having a purpose in life is good for your health. One of the dangers of retirement is just sitting around, doing nothing, and having no purpose in life.

markgraham wrote on December 2, 2015, 9:10 AM

How true and I was psychiatric geriatric nurse for 15 years. My purpose is to write and hopefully teach through my writing. I really just realized this about two years ago. I do agreee with you about the feisty older living longer.

Rufuszen wrote on December 2, 2015, 9:18 AM

Totally agree. When I was younger it seemed that all the old people rarely ventured and didn't do a lot. They seemed to slowly evaporated away. Today the older generation looks on retirement as a chance to have fun and go places, do what they couldn't before. Enjoy that second childhood! That's a fair goal.

Colibry21 wrote on December 2, 2015, 11:04 AM

Having a purpose gives us something to work for, to live for. I think it does help us.

Brenda wrote on December 6, 2015, 1:39 PM

Wow! That is empowering wonderful information and one I certainly agree with. We should always have a purpose that is why we are here to begin with. Just the word purpose supposes it and endears us to live our lives to a good purpose.

AliCanary wrote on December 15, 2015, 5:46 PM

I believe it! After my dad retired, he kept with busy with church work, barbershop chorus, regular friendly card games with friends, and delivering Meals on Wheels. Unfortunately, he perished from lung cancer, but until then, he stayed vital and engaged.

RuthCox wrote on December 25, 2015, 8:12 PM

I believe it is very important to have a purpose in life. Maybe that's why I always have a dog. I can't justify growing old and giving up when the dog depends on me!

6snowroses.6doves4peace wrote on January 3, 2016, 5:16 PM

Hi Feisty! I miss you! How are you? Happy new year!