One of my great-grandmothers—who lived to age 96—said she never felt old until she reached the age of 90.
The summer before she passed, she had a vegetable garden.
She was known to go out and polish the chrome fenders of her adult grand-children’s cars when they stopped by to visit. And wanted to visit one of her grandsons in college because she felt “the boys” at the college could use her help!
In the depths of the Great Depression she found purpose in her life in even small everyday activities.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could live well past his or her 90th birthday healthy and happy?
Sadly, not everyone goes through life happy and healthy.
One of the biggest fears of aging is developing Alzheimers Disease.
And with good reason . . .Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease for the person affected and his or her family.
Alzheimers Disease is a worry for many folks and their families.
It’s not just the loss of thinking abilities. It’s also the personality changes that can devastate families and friends along with those affected by the disease.
How large a problem is Alzheimer’s Disease?
In the U.S. estimates are 4.5 to 5 million people had a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2006. That number rose to to 5.4 million in 2011.
It is estimated that by 2050 as many as 13 million people in the U.S. alone will have Alzheimer’s.
So how does having a purpose in life affect the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Researchers at Rush University are searching for factors that may be changed to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
- In a recent study they followed almost 1000 older persons living in senior communities and housing facilities. The study lasted 7 years.
- They found that a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment is associated with a greater purpose in life. People with a high score on purpose of life had 2.4 times less likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s Disease than those with low scores!
- Mild cognitive impairment is the changes in thinking and reasoning that can occur before a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be made. And it can occur in people who never develop Alzheimer’s Disease.
- The researchers eliminated many factors that could affect the results . . .including removing from the results anyone who developed Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive impairment within the first three years of the study.
How can finding life purpose help you decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in yourself or someone you love?
Stimulate thinking and reasoning.
Studies show that frequently doing activities that stimulate thinking and reasoning reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
What kind of activities? Well crafts like knitting, puzzles like crossword puzzles, reading books and magazines and games like checkers and cards all qualify.
Encourage someone to find purpose in their daily lives with an activity that studies show decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s—like knitting a blanket for every grandchild or knitting for charity.
- Reducing stress.
While science often seems at odds with spiritual matters, it’s easy to see how people who have a greater purpose in their lives often handle stress better than those who haven’t connected with their purpose.
And medicine is just learning all the harmful effects chronic stress can have on a person.
Can your response to stress result in chronic disease?
Can it lead to Alzheimer’s?
A study from 2006 showed that stress hormones increased the proteins associated with Alzheimer’s (beta amyloid and tau proteins) in mice. The researchers suggested managing chronic stress in older patients may be wise in addition to monitoring their medications closely to avoid increasing the stress hormones.
Have you found your purpose in life?
When you connect with your purpose, you give new meaning to your life.
Now in your search for your purpose in life there’s a free resource that’s fun.
And you can change the lives of seven other people for the better . . .
Get started now with The “21-Day I AM a Gift to the World!” Challenge by clicking on this link.
Source: JAMA and Archives Journals (2010, March 2). Having greater purpose in life associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100301165619.htm
Source: University of California – Irvine (2006, August 30). Stress Significantly Hastens Progression Of Alzheimer’s Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060830005837.htm
Keep knitting to your heart’s delight — or someone else’s,
Ina Gilmore M.D. (ret.)
“The Knitting Dr.”
Ambassador of Elder Care, HowToLiveOnPurpose.com
Founder, CaregivingWithPurpose.com and TheKnittingYarn.com
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