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BellaOnline's Alzheimers Editor
 

Having a Purpose Wards Off Alzheimer's

In addition to eating a Mediterranean diet, managing daily stressors, exercising, monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels, preventing type 2 diabetes and stimulating the brain, there is a new kid on the block when it concerns preventing Alzheimer’s disease: Individuals who report having a greater purpose in their lives appear less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or its precursor, mild cognitive impairment, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Having a greater purpose, a mission, has also been associated with happiness. A purposeful life helps to reduce stress which is inflammatory as it plays havoc with memory. Stress hormones lodge longest in the brain, especially the hippocampus which is known as the seat of memory. This is how identifying and implementing your mission works: It takes you out of your narrow context to contribute to the welfare of others. This makes you feel better by being a part of something larger – human beings are tribal by nature and need to belong and contribute.

Creativity is the first step towards finding your purpose. What do you love to do and what makes your heart sing? What are you good at doing? See where these two attributes intersect. Still don’t know? Then ask your friends and family what they envision you doing. Many of us actively pursue happiness while others create it. Creativity is an excellent way to fill an empty heart. I can personally testify that when both my parents contracted Alzheimer’s, I turned to creativity to keep me happier and healthier. I did what I was good at doing, what I loved doing where I lost track of time and space. For me there were two activities which gave me “creative compensation:” Gardening and writing.

Gardening helps me to create a private haven, a secret place which is beautiful, sensual and healing. I can reset my natural rhythm, get a workout to be envied by many gym members and observe the natural cycle of life to inspire self-growth. Also, I get to reap what I sow and this is a big deal in a world that can be unfair and unkind.

Writing helps me to find my voice as well as sort out my deep feelings. It is as though I am experiencing everything twice, once in reality and once in my imagination. I realize that when I write to you I can share my self-growth, emotional experience, continuous research and resilient optimism to generate awareness and serve as an example – what I have personally tried and tested.

My mission is to serve as a transformer. Can you state your mission in simple terms?
For more information on caregiving read my book, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show




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