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Having a purpose in life helps fight Alzheimer’sposted on June 6, 2012 - 6:17 pm
Find your purpose in life. Certainly, it’s great advice for anyone, but now there’s evidence that it could also be helpful for someone with signs of Alzheimer’s.
The decade-long study by the Memory and Aging Project at Rush University in Chicago followed 247 individuals starting in 1997. Participants were elderly—the average age was 80—but they did not have any signs of Alzheimer’s. Each year, there were neurological and cognitive tests. As part of the evaluation, participants rated how much meaning they derived from life's activities and whether they were goal-directed or purposeful.
The study found that of the people who developed signs of Alzheimer’s, those with a higher purpose in life did better with cognitive function over time.
The researchers defined purpose in life as “the tendency to be intentional, to engage in behaviors that one wants to engage in and thinks are important.” To read more and learn about one 83-year-old woman who is an inspiring example of purposeful living, click this link to the Chicago Tribune.
While it’s tempting to hope a sense of purpose is enough to prevent Alzheimer’s, I don’t think that’s the case. But it does underscore my own experience that it’s possible to maintain a rewarding daily life, even with Alzheimer’s. Our programs at Bridges by EPOCH are specifically designed to ensure residents maintain a life with purpose; we nurture individual strengths, so residents can maintain confidence and self-esteem and we tailor activities to compliment each person’s life experiences and abilities.
At Bridges by EPOCH, our team knows that as Alzheimer’s progresses, this approach is an effective way to optimize health and emotional well-being. Our staff is trained to provide this kind of exceptional care at every stage of a person’s progress with Alzheimer’s.
Living with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s easy to feel burdened with daily tasks. As a caregiver you can help that person continue to live a life with purpose. Help them list the most meaningful or rewarding activities in their life. Maybe visiting family, attending a religious service, or being creative is on that list. Think up some new ways to pursue those interests, even if they need to be modified. Then schedule them. In a weekly planner or diary, track how much time you spend on meaningful activities and work on making them more of a priority. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it for both of you!