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Monday, June 15, 2009

Older People With a Purpose Live Longer

A greater purpose in life is linked to longer life for the elderly, according to a new study by neuropsychologist Patricia Boyle and her colleagues at Rush University Medical Center. They studied more than 1,200 older adults at two separate times five years apart. During the period in between, 151 participants died, but the researchers found that a senior with a high purpose in life was about half as likely to die than was a senior with a low purpose. (Boyle defines purpose as the tendency to find meaning in life’s experiences and to be focused and intentional).
“The finding that purpose in life is related to longevity in older persons suggests that aspects of human flourishing—particularly the tendency to derive meaning from life’s experiences and possess a sense of intentionality and goal-directedness—contribute to successful aging,” says Boyle.
“Although we think that having a sense of purpose in life is important across the lifespan," she adds, "measurement of purpose in life in older persons in particular may reveal an enduring sense of meaningfulness and intentionality in life that somehow provides a buffer against negative health outcomes."