The Memory and Aging Project began several years ago in an effort to determine the connection between disease- or age-related decline in brain cells and common memory problems associated with that decline. The study also looks into the changes in overall mental performance, physical mobility, and strength. The researchers continue to find new and exciting avenues to explore in the study of aging, including the link between increased social activity and a decrease in cognitive decline, and a more recent mini-study that confirmed the connection between daily exercise and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A long-term study done through the Memory and Aging Project at the Rush University Medical Center highlights another factor that is related to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and therefore a reduced risk of memory loss: whether or not a person has a sense of purpose in life, or has the habit of setting goals. For this study, almost a thousand participants answered questions on a test called the Psychological Well-Being Scale that measures a person’s self-acceptance, view of their personal growth, their relationships, their ability to cope with daily life, their willpower, and finally their sense of purpose in life. Those participants who gave answers in this last section like “I enjoy making plans for the future and working them to a reality” – that is, those people who set goals and worked toward them, rather than feeling aimless and adrift in life – were the ones who showed a significant drop in their risk of developing age-related memory problems due to Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, the risk was almost 50% lower!
The researchers acknowledge that people who are accustomed to setting goals are also those who are more likely to have healthy, memory-promoting habits such as regular exercise and more social interaction, but the conclusion is clear that being focused on your goals, and working hard to achieve them, definitely helps reduce the risk of developing memory problems in the future.
With that in mind, why not make it your goal to spend some time every day on memory-boosting techniques and exercises? You’ll get the ultimate memory skills you want, and at the same time reduce your risk of losing those skills in years to come.