US News & World Report (March 2, 2010): A Purposeful Life May Starve Off Alzheimer's

Publication Date: 
Tue, 03/02/2010

People who say their lives have a purpose are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or its precursor, mild cognitive impairment, a new study suggests.

As the population ages and dementia becomes a more frequent diagnosis, there's increasing impetus to determine the causes of the disease, associated risk factors and how to prevent it, explained study co-author Dr. Aron S. Buchman, an associate professor in the department of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

"There has been a lot of interest in psychosocial factors and their association with cognitive decline and dementia in later life," he said.

The study looked at the positive aspects of life and their possible effect on keeping dementia at bay, "looking at happiness, purposeful in life, well-being and whether those kind of concepts are associated with a decreased risk of dementia," Buchman explained.

For the study, published in the March issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, Buchman and his colleagues collected data on 951 older people without dementia who participated in the Rush Memory and Aging Project.