Research links “purposeful activity” with improved dementia experience

New research has found that purpose in life is associated with a substantially reduced risk of Alzheimer disease and with a greater capacity to cope with the illness.

The longitudinal study included detailed annual clinical evaluations and brain autopsy. Purpose in life was assessed via structured interview, and cognitive function was evaluated annually. Purpose in life modified the association between the usual changes caused by Alzheimers and participants’ levels of cognition so that participants who reported higher levels of purpose in life exhibited better cognitive function despite the burden of the disease. The researchers concluded that “higher levels of purpose in life reduce the deleterious effects of Alzheimers Disease pathologic changes on cognition in advanced age.”