Do you have purpose?
Your cognitive health is important, isn't it? We all want to support our memory and clear thinking. Fortunately, science now gives us many clues on how best to preserve cognitive clarity.
Certainly, your overall physical health, especially your brain health, is important in this. Whatever is good for your brain is good for your cognitive health.
For example, adequate sleep and certain habits of diet and activity are known to reduce the risk of cognitive decline. In last week’s email, I even told you of a study showing that women who do more housework tend to have more brain volume! Apparently, everyday physical activity supports cognitive health.
And psychological factors are important too. Our thoughts & feelings affect the health of our brain & mind.
For example, medical science has known for some time that prolonged depression increases a patient’s risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
But what about the happier side of life? Does happiness act to protect cognitive health?
Researchers have begun investigating this. In June, a scientific study was published in Ageing Research Reviews. The authors of the study did a systematic review & meta-analysis of other research papers, investigating if there’s any relationship between ‘positive psychological constructs’ and the later risk of cognitive decline in adults aged 50+.
The scientists of the study said they’d still like to see more research on this topic, but they could already identify one positive psychological factor associated with the cognitive health of older adults — Purpose!
They concluded: “Having purpose in life was significantly associated with a reduced risk of dementia”.
Research showed that seniors who lived with more purpose in their lives were less likely to develop cognitive decline and dementia.
This sense of purpose in life was even more significant than simply living for enjoyment or pleasure. Cognitive health was supported by a life of purpose.
Such a complicated, but meaningful topic! I’ll have more details and related research for you in next week’s message.
But, in the meantime, you might like to notice your own sense of purpose. What is the meaning — the purpose — in your life? What’s important to you? What really matters?
To your natural happiness!
Georgia Bell et al, Positive psychological constructs and association with reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Ageing Research Reviews (2022)