Sense of Purpose Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s

Seniors who say they have a greater sense of purpose and direction in their lives seem to also have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study from researchers at the Rush University Medical Center.
The researchers used a questionnaire to measure the seniors’ sense of purpose and then followed up with them a number of years later. They found that those who scored in the top 10 percent on the measurement were about 2.4 times more likely to stay Alzheimer’s-free than were those who scored in the bottom ten percent. In other words, seniors who agreed most with statements like “I feel good when I think of what I have done in the past and what I hope to do in the future” were much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than were those who disagreed with the statements. They also showed a slower rate of cognitive decline.
While the mechanism behind the link isn’t yet known, the researchers suggest it may have something to do with the fact that purpose in life has also been linked to positive effects on the immune system and blood vessels. And a sense of purpose, they point out, is something that can be instilled:

In particular, these findings may provide a new treatment target for interventions aimed at enhancing health and well-being in older adults. Purpose in life is a potentially modifiable factor that may be increased via specific behavioral strategies that help older persons identify personally meaningful activities and engage in goal-directed behaviors. Even small behavioral modifications ultimately may translate into an increased sense of intentionality, usefulness, and relevance.

Before I Die I Want to …

Check out this Polaroid project by artists Nicole Kenney and ks rives, who are asking hundreds of people in America and India to share what they want to do before they die—to compare our values and views of death, explore our ability to dream, and find out what motivates us to take action.
Participate in the project by sending them your photo, a handwritten statement explaining what you want in your life before you die, and your email address.

Do You Know Someone (60+) Changing the World?

2009montageIf you do, nominate that person for the 2010 Purpose Prize, which awards cash prizes to Americans over 60 who are putting their passion and experience to use for the greater good. Winners receive up to 100,000 dollars to help them create new ways of solving our toughest social problems.
The nomination deadline is March 5.

Congratulations, 2009 Purpose Prize Winners

PurposePrizeAnd thanks for using your passion, skills, and experience to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
The 11 winners, all social entrepreneurs older than 60, are using their “encore careers” to innovate. As Marc Freedman, co-founder of the prizes, notes:

More than ever, the problems facing our communities, our country and our world call out for creative solutions. Fortunately, we don’t run out of ideas as we age. Like so many others in this new stage of life between the end of midlife careers and the beginning of true old age, The Purpose Prize winners combine creativity, experience and passion with a desire to do something bigger than themselves.

You can already nominate someone for the 2010 Purpose Prize. The deadline is March 5.

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