Older People With a Purpose Live Longer

A greater purpose in life is linked to longer life for the elderly, according to a new study by neuropsychologist Patricia Boyle and her colleagues at Rush University Medical Center. They studied more than 1,200 older adults at two separate times five years apart. During the period in between, 151 participants died, but the researchers found that a senior with a high purpose in life was about half as likely to die than was a senior with a low purpose. (Boyle defines purpose as the tendency to find meaning in life’s experiences and to be focused and intentional).
“The finding that purpose in life is related to longevity in older persons suggests that aspects of human flourishing—particularly the tendency to derive meaning from life’s experiences and possess a sense of intentionality and goal-directedness—contribute to successful aging,” says Boyle.
“Although we think that having a sense of purpose in life is important across the lifespan,” she adds, “measurement of purpose in life in older persons in particular may reveal an enduring sense of meaningfulness and intentionality in life that somehow provides a buffer against negative health outcomes.”


Calling All Social Innovators (Older Than 60)

Nominations are now open for the 2009 Purpose Prize, a Civic Ventures initiative that awards cash prizes to Americans over 60 who are finding new ways to solve our most significant social problems by combining innovation, creativity, and their experience. Winners will each receive up to 100,000 dollars. The nomination period ends March 5.


Let the Nominations Begin

Nominations opened today for the 2008 Purpose Prize, a Civic Ventures initiative that awards five 100,000 dollar prizes and ten 10,000 dollar prizes to Americans over 60 who are working to solve significant social problems by combining innovation, creativity, and their experience. Nominations close March 1.


Character Development

Congratulations to the 2007 Purpose Prize winners. Chosen from more than 1,100 nominations from 48 states, these five social entrepreneurs, all over the age of 60, have used their life experience to improve their communities and to innovate. It’s time to redefine how we think of retirement, believes Civic Ventures President Marc Freedman, who helped initiate the prizes. “It’s the intersection of the longevity revolution and the demographic revolution and either one of those alone would be a significant social development,” he says, “but the combination brings things to a magnitude that we’re only beginning to grasp.” —Heather Wax

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