Have a Purpose in Life, Live Longer

We've always heard that it's good to have a purpose in life.  Becoming a mother.  Giving blood.  Making a million dollars.

How many of us have given it just lip service, though?  A new study is saying we should think again.

Study Highlights
• People who have a strong sense of purpose in life are less likely to develop brain infarcts as they age.
• Having a “purpose in life” may also protect against dementia, movement problems, and death.
• Purpose in life differs for everyone and can include things such as volunteering, learning new things, or being part of your community.

Having a strong sense that your life has meaning and direction may make you less likely to develop areas of brain damage caused by blockages in blood flow as you age. This research is reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

When a blockage interrupts blood flow in a vessel within the brain, a stroke can result or brain tissue can be damaged. This damaged tissue, called infarcts, may contribute to dementia, movement problems, disability, and death as people age.

"Mental health, in particular positive psychological factors such as having a purpose in life, are emerging as very potent determinants of health outcomes,” said Patricia Boyle. Ph.D., study co-author and associate professor of behavioral sciences at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Clinicians need to be aware of patients’ mental state and encourage behaviors that will increase purpose and other positive emotional states.”

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