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07.01.2024


A meaningful life? Less cognitive decline due to aging

If you experience life as meaningful and purposeful, you are less likely to suffer a mental decline after the age of fifty. This was discovered by American epidemiologists who analyzed European data.


A meaningful life? Less cognitive decline due to aging


Study
Researchers from Florida State University analyzed data collected from 2006 to 2015 in the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe. The Americans were able to follow 22,514 people over 50, who lived in 13 different European countries and Israel, for an average of 7 consecutive years.

When the trial started, the study participants had formulated an answer to the question, How often do you feel that your life has meaning?

In the years that followed, researchers used basic tests to determine whether the study participants were deteriorating mentally. This was the case with 4 percent of the study participants.

Results
If the study participants indicated that they often felt that their lives were completely meaningless, their risk of mental decline was 75 percent greater than if the study participants indicated that they often felt that their lives actually had meaning.


A meaningful life? Less cognitive decline due to aging


The effect of experiencing purpose and meaning remained after the Americans had removed the impact of lifestyle factors such as region, age, gender, education and marital status. Even when they removed from their sample the study participants who had started to deteriorate soon after answering the the question about experiencing meaning, the association was still intact.

Conclusion
"The present study indicates a robust association between meaning in life and risk of cognitive impairment," the researchers summarize. "Given its malleability, meaning may be a useful intervention target to support healthier cognitive aging and reduced dementia risk."

Source:
Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2020 May-Jun:88:104033.

More:
Social activity protects against dementia 26.10.2023
Frequent contact with friends and family protects against dementia 06.08.2019
Loneliness leads to first stages of dementia 09.02.2017
Cynical over 65s more likely to develop dementia 21.06.2014

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