Sunday, October 01, 2017 by JD Heyes
You’ve heard the expression that the only two sure things in life are death and taxes, and while we may have little influence over the IRS and Congress, we certainly have ways to find more fulfillment in life as we approach our final moment on earth.
Most of us don’t want to spend the twilight years of our lives debilitated, sickly, or mentally incapable, and while conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, stroke, and heart attack are more prevalent among older folks, new research suggests there is a natural way to fend off those ailments.
Quite simply, having a purpose in life as we age can serve to mitigate our chances of developing a debilitating disease.
As the Washington Post reports, a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry adds to a growing body of evidence that seniors who feel as though they have purpose to their lives tend to have stronger hand grips and faster walking speeds, two physical traits which indicate how quickly we age.
The Post noted further:
Why would a psychological construct (“I feel that I have goals and something to live for”) have this kind of impact? Seniors with a sense of purpose may be more physically active and take better care of their health, some research suggests. Also, they may be less susceptible to stress, which can fuel dangerous inflammation.
“Purposeful individuals tend to be less reactive to stressors and more engaged, generally, in their daily lives, which can promote cognitive and physical health,” said Patrick Hill, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. He wasn’t involved in the study, the Post noted.
What, exactly, is “purpose” and how can it be achieved?
Those are questions that Anne Newman, 69, who lives part-time in Hartsdale, which is north of New York City, and part-time in Delray Beach, Fla., asks herself “on a minute-by-minute basis” since she shuttered her psychotherapy practice in 2016.
She notes that building then maintaining her career was the principal driving factor in her life after she raised two daughters and then went back to work at 48. She said that, as a therapist, “I really loved helping people make changes in their lives that put them in a different, better position.”
The Post noted that her life became difficult when her husband, Joseph moved to Florida and she began commuting back and forth from their home in New York. The travel took its toll and she decided she did not want a long-distance marriage. As such, she started winding her practice down and calculating her next move.
“Not knowing what’s going to take the place of work in my life, it feels horrible, like I’m floundering,” she told the Post.
Experts say that people trying to find a sense of purpose ought to think about spending more time on things that they enjoy, or by employing existing work skills in a new and interesting manner. For Newman, she said she enjoys drawing and photography, and currently, she is looking at work opportunities in Florida but has yet to find something that has drawn her in.
“I think people can get a sense of purpose from very simple things” such as “taking care of a pet, working in the garden or being kind to a neighbor,” Patricia Boyle, a leading researcher in this discipline, told the Post. (Related: Are You THRIVING Or SURVIVING? Science Reveals Your Mindset Is Key.)
“Even small goals can help motivate someone to keep going,” said Boyle, who is also a professor of behavioral sciences at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Other activities that can provide a sense of purpose for older people include taking care of grandchildren, writing, getting involved in community volunteer organizations, or religion, say experts.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.