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Natural Awakenings

Purpose and Meaning Help Seniors Live Longer: Connection to Longevity

Apr 29, 2016 11:02AM

A study of 9,050 people by researchers at Britain’s University College of London (UCL), Princeton University and Stony Brook University has determined that a sense of purpose and meaning in the lives of older individuals can significantly reduce the risk of earlier mortality. The researchers called this greater sense of purpose “evaluative well-being”.

The study followed subjects that averaged 65 years old at the start for eight-and-a-half years. During that period, 9 percent of those with the highest levels of well-being died. Among those with the lowest levels of well-being, 29 percent passed away during the same period.

The study was led by Professor Andrew Steptoe, director of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, who explains, “These analyses show that the meaningfulness and sense of purpose that older people have in their lives are also related to survival.” The mechanisms for this effect are still largely unknown. “There are several biological mechanisms that may link well-being to improved health, such as through hormonal changes or reduced blood pressure,” he says.

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