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Find a purpose, keep your brain

If you have a purpose in life, you might not lose your memories.

HealthDayNews released a story today about a study that looked at how having a strong purpose in life can keep your brain strong.

“Somehow, having a purpose allows people to cope with the physical signs of Alzheimer's disease,” said Patricia Boyle, an associate professor at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Among those who had a lot of brain gunk — known as plaques and tangles — the ones who had greater purpose in life appeared to be less affected by a decline in their mental (or “cognitive”) powers. “The rate of cognitive decline was about 30 percent slower for someone with greater purpose in life, compared to someone with less purpose,” Boyle said.

(The researchers defined a purpose in life as the “tendency to find meaning from life experience, to be intentional and focused,” Boyle said. “It's an indicator of well-being, that life is good and you are contributing to your life, you're making decisions.”)

What older folks did you know who retained a sense of purpose late into life?

(S-R archive photo of Betty White, a 90-year-old actress filled with life)

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About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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