PARISH NURSE NY - parishnurseny
Parish Nurse Roundtable
Parish Resource Center
Rocky Point, NY
SAVE THE DATE
Next Parish Nurse Roundtable:
Jan. 29, 2011 (Sat)
10 a.m. - 12 noon
"Serving the Senior Population"
Thank-you to the nurses who attended the September 11th Parish Nurse Roundtable. We talked about the Basic Parish Nurse Preparation Course. Charlaine is going to try to obtain a grant that would cover the cost of this course. We have St. Charles available for meeting space and we are looking into an instructor. One of our nurses is interested, so I am finding out how to make it possible for her to obtain certification to teach this course.
Members shared their Parish Nurse outreach programs with a nurse interested in starting this program in her church. It is so important that we support each other in our work for Jesus.
A date for the next meeting will be set for January. We need to know if an evening would be a better time. Please let us know your preference. You can call Joan Nathan or Charlaine at the Rocky Point Parish Resource Center.
Joan also talked about the International Parish NURSE resource center. The URL is www.parishnurse.org
The nurses discussed the need to give to food pantries. The INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network and Long Island Cares can use substantial doanations!!) There is a soup kitchen in Port Jefferson at the St.Paul Lutheran Church. This is open on Sundays at 1 pm and Wedneday evening. This kitchen is affiliated with the INNl.
Joan Nathan is giving a nutrition and diabetes program at Trinity Lutheran in Islip on September 25th (Sat) at 9 to 10:30 a.m. She will talk about this program at the Janurary meeting.
Continue to remind people about needed immunizations. Please help increase the percentage of residents in Suffolk County who have current immunizations available.
Please contact Joan Nathan for any special concerns.
Joan Nathan R.N., N.P.
On this page:
Flu Shots | Keep your Immune System Up | Do I Have A Cold or the Flu?
Do You Know the Difference Between Pneumonia, The Flu and A Cold?
Keeping your immune system up...
It is our hope that we can help dispel some of the fears and give you tips on how to prevent getting the flu or spreading the flu. This information is based on facts and opinions of the Parish Nurses and are no way meant to take the place of your health care provider.
If you are at risk, have you had a pneumonia shot (pneumovax)? The pneumonia shot guards against bacterial pneumonia, blood infections, and meningitis. It is recommended for people over 65 and those under 65 with health risks, such as lung disease and problems, diabetics, and cardiac patients. Medicare will only pay for one pneumonia shot. If you are over 65, it is felt that you only need the pneumonia shot once. Again, talk with your doctor. Pneumonia is one of the complications of the flu especially in the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Waiting in long lines for flu shots especially for the elderly can be more of a health risk than the chance of them getting the flu. Keep your immune system up:
- Check with your doctor or health care provider:
- Do they have the vaccine?
- Will they be getting the vaccine?
- Do you really need the vaccine based on your health status?
People have voiced to us the concern about shaking hands in church. This really should not be an issue. But if this is a real concern to you; you may just want to nod to the people around you and give your greeting and sign of peace verbally. Did you know that a lot of health workers do not take the flu shot and they are around all kinds of germs all day long? The media has contributed to the flu vaccine frenzy. To quote one media story, "we as a society tend to want the unattainable." This is true with the flu vaccine. People who have never considered getting a flu shot are caught up in the frenzy "that I have to get a flu shot." Not getting a flu shot does not mean that you will get the flu. Ontario, Canada will not give the flu vaccine to Americans crossing the bridge in Windsor. For people who are elderly and homebound and are worried about getting the flu because they are unable to get the vaccine, remember there is less chance of getting the flu because you are not being exposed to the public. Just watch who comes in to your home and make sure they are not sick. Put your faith in the Lord.
- Get adequate rest.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
- Regular exercise, walking is one of the best and can be done at the mall indoors as the weather gets colder.
- Good hand washing prevents germs from spreading.
- Chill out! Getting overstresses tires the body and can affect your immune system.
Stay Well, Be Healthy, Be Informed
Health and Spirituality Ministry
On A Healthy Note
"The Lord works out everything for his own ends." ~Proverbs 16:4
Do I Have A Cold or the Flu (Part 1 of 3)
Both the common cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses. It can be difficult to tell the difference. Different viruses cause colds and the flu. Colds are caused by any one of 200 viruses, rhinovirus being the most common. Colds will come on gradually and spread easily, usually through hand contact or from sneezing and coughing.
The common cold will involve the sinuses, ears and the bronchial tubes. The cold lasts on the average of one week. Mild colds may last for 3 days and severe colds can last up to two weeks. Symptoms may include stuffiness, runny nose, sneezing, red eyes, sore throat, occasionally and and low-grade fever. Treatment is usually over the counter medicines to treat the symptoms: Tylenol or aspirin to relieve the fever or aches, cough medicine for the cough, decongestant to the stuffiness and runny nose or there are combination over the counter meds that will contain several of the listed medications all in one pill. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses. If symptoms persist beyond two weeks or you are feeling worse, contact your health provider. Occasionally cold can lead to a sinus infection which may be bacterial. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations.
The flu will usually come on fast as opposed to a cold, which is usually gradual. The symptoms usually last from 4 to 7 days but the fatigue and weakness can last 2 to 3 weeks. The symptoms include high fever lasting 3-4 days, loss of appetite, severe muscle aches, chills, severe headache, severe dry cough, fatigue and exhaustion.
Both the flu and the cold are spread through respiratory droplets from cough and sneezes. They also can be spread by contact, touching something that the virus is on and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
Influenza or the flu should not be confused with a stomach virus that some people refer to as the "stomach flu." The vaccine that we receiver for the flu will not prevent the "stomach flu" or medically known as viral gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis will present with the following symptoms - abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. It is caused by one of a number of viruses and can be contagious. It like the respiratory flu is more common in the winter months. In infants, young children and the elderly the big concern is dehydration due to the diarrhea and vomiting.
Next week we will discuss how to prevent getting the flu, especially if you are not able to get the flu vaccine. Remember even with getting the vaccine you are not guaranteed not getting the flu. The vaccine hopefully will protect you against the viruses they suspect will cause the flu each year. Each year the viruses change. So with the vaccine it will help you build antibodies against the viruses and lessen the severity if you do get the flu.
How To Prevent Getting the Flu (Part 2 of 3)
Prevent getting the flu and colds begins with good health habits. The habits are everyday things that we do but this is a good time to stop think of what we are doing and why. The
best defense is good hand washing technique. Hand washing should be done frequently and with warm water and soap. To be effective the hands should be washed for at least twenty
seconds. A simple method to know if you are washing long enough, especially with children, is to sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself. At home change the hand towels frequently during the cold and flu season. Have a separate towel for the person in the home that may be ill.
- Get plenty of sleep. A well-rested body is the best defense against a range of illnesses. Healthy sleep helps bolster the immune system.
- Exercise and regular physical activity strengthens the immune system.
- Drink plenty of water during the day. Fluids keeps you hydrated, delivers nutrients to your organs and flushes toxins from the body.
- The eyes, nose and mouth are entry ports for cold and flu viruses. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
- Try to avoid using your hands to cover your mouth when you sneeze. Again the virus is transferred to your hand and then you touch someone or something and transfer the
germs. Use a tissue and discard properly. Don’t put them in your pocket or tuck it in your sleeve to be saved and used again. If you do not have a tissue handy turn your head away from others and cough or sneeze into you sleeve.
- Sharing is not always good. Avoid sharing the communal bathroom cup because you could inadvertently catch germs. Opt for the disposable paper or plastic one time use cup. Throw away toothbrushes after an illness such the cold or flu.
- In the workplace and at home wipe down your telephone with an alcohol wipe or one of the several disinfecting wipes on the market. You may also want to wipe down your desk or computer keyboard especially if you share this equipment with other people.
- If you have young children take the time to periodically wipe down their toys with an antibacterial wipe. In general in the home wipe down countertops, the door knobs and
other common places that that members of the family come in contact that may have collected germs from the outside.
- If possible stay home from work, school, church and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness. You are most contagious with a cold or
the flu usually in the first 24 to 72 hours of the onset of the illness.
With holiday shopping coming up avoid the crowds at the malls if possible. Washing hands again if you stop to eat. You might want to have hand wipes or the small size of alcohol
base hand sanitizers in your purse or pocket. Wash hands thoroughly when your return home. Next week we will talk about what to do if you do get the flu.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in afflictions, faithful in prayer." ~Romans 12:12
What to Do If You Get the Flu (Part 3 of 3)
Despite all your best efforts and good health habits you find yourself or someone in your family ill with the flu. As you know there is no magic cure for the flu. The object is to treat the symptoms, keep the person as comfortable as possible and prevent complications by being observant and seeking medical help when appropriate and trying to contain the spread of the flu to other members in the household.
TIPS FOR COPING WITH THE FLU:
- Bed rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and to flush the toxins from the body.
- Use over the counter meds such as Tylenol, Motrin, etc. to reduce the fever and ease the body aches. Do not give aspirin to children.
- Keep your distance from the person who is ill if possible. Avoid close contact with the person who has the flu.
- Dispose of used tissues properly and quickly (do not keep them in your pocket or at the bedside).
- Hand washing is extremely important for the caregiver and the patient.
- Contact your health care provider for a prescription antiviral medication. There are several antiviral meds that can be given such as Tamiflu, Relenza, Flumadine and Symmetrel. These drugs will not cure you of the flu but they will shorten the duration and the severity of the flu symptoms. To be most effective they need to be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. As with any medication there is a risk of side effects and you need to contact your health provider.
- Watch for complications. Contact your doctor if you experience a worsening of symptoms.
- Contact your physician if symptoms persist beyond a week or if your temperature is above 102 degrees.
- In children, sinus and ear infections can develop.
- In both children and the elderly, especially those with pre-existing medical problems, dehydration is a concern. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, low urine output, lack of sugar tugor (skin lacks its normal elasticity and sags back into position slowly when pinched up into a fold), dry mouth, and confusion.
OTHER COMMON SENSE TIPS INCLUDE:
- Use antibacterial wipes to clean common surfaces around the house (such as doorknobs, counter tops, telephone and table).
- Use the sanitary wash cycle on your dishwater.
- Have the ill person use separate hand towels.
- Wipe down children's toys with an antibacterial wipe or soap and water.
- Open up the window and air out the bedroom for a few minutes when changing the bed linens.
Stay Well, Be Healthy, Be Informed
Hallelujah to Health!
means taking phenomenal care of yourself !
This means as African-American women we need to learn more about breast and cervical cancer and more about ourselves! This website will share…
Cancer is scary to think about, but ignoring it is dangerous.
You have faced scary things before—you have the strength of spirit to learn about your body and about detecting cancer.
You have the power to use the tests provided by your doctor and to find cancer, if it happens, early. When you find it early, treatment is more successful.
Using your power can save your life.
African-American women get cancer less often than other women, but they are more likely to die from it. One reason for this is that African-American women get tested for cancer less often, so when it is found, the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat.
This Hallelujah to Health website was created especially for you, an African-American woman. This website will tell you about breast and cervical cancer, what puts you at higher risk for these cancers, and the symptoms of each disease. This website will also discuss the screening tools used to detect these cancers.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care,
’Cause I’m a woman
©1978, Maya Angelou
As a woman, you take
Children, relatives, neighbors, friends, church members,
You are a
Now it’s time to take
Say Hallelujah to Health!
and click on the links on the left to learn more!
Flu has been in the news year round now because of the H1N1 concern. It has been reported in several states as swabs have been taken and found to be positive. Do people ask you what to do? Do you know how to answer them?
The CDC has information about cases findings and recommendations. You may contact http://www.cdc.gov/ as a resource. If you have never visited the site, I recommend it! It has terrific handouts on subjects from A-Z that you can download and share with your members!
Many blessings to all of you as you serve your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Joan Nathan, R.N., N.P.
Parish Nurse Holy Trinity Middle Island, NY
Atlantic District Representative
WHAT SEASON IS IT?
Where I live has had so much rain. I keep getting confused about what month it is. Is it April? No, it is June. June is supposed to be in the 80's and certainly much drier than now. Summer is trying to creep in as I am seeing cases of poison ivy at my work place. I must admit that I have slowed down at my church ministry. What about you? What keeps you going? Soon the Ladies Guild (LWML) will be having their yard sale. This is my big project. I have a community blood pressure screening. People are surprised that it is a free service. This is especially appreciated today when many people are skipping doctors appointments to save money. Some people do not have insurance and really have a high payment to make to the doctor. Although it is money well spent, a person has to have it in the first place. If someone doesn't have insurance I wonder if they have a job. This is such a big concern for all classes of people. The church needs to reach out to everyone's heart with love and care. In my church I am calling my outreach Heart to Heart. I am reaching out with my heartfelt prayers to another heart. And I take a measure of their heart: the blood pressure.
I know it is the season of care. What care do I have to give today?
Please stay connected with each other through this New York Parish Nurse network. You may call me anytime at 631-924-6991. I contine to be happy that I have been able to meet some of you at the past programs offered by the Atlantic District. Judy Benke is always a wonderful leading resource! Keep encouraging us Judy! Joy Elwell N.P., D.NP. is a wonderful nursing leader who treats her patients with the love and understanding of Jesus. Her leadership in the Parish Nurse Wellness Program in her church and Atlantic District shares Jesus' love always. I will continue to say this is the beauty of staying connected--we shine brightly to the world!
Please enjoy the e-mails you receive! Please send me articles! You may reach me at the address below my signiture.
Below is a letter to Parish Nurses
from Matthew Harrison
LCMS World Relief and Human Care
May 21, 2009
Dear LCMS Parish Nurses, my fellow servants in Christ:
Grace and peace to you in the name of our risen and ascended Lord as you celebrate the 20th
anniversary of parish nursing in the LCMS!
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the tireless—and unfortunately often
thankless—hours of service you have directed toward the church and your local communities. As
you reach out to meet the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of those you care for, you model
our incarnate Savior on a daily basis. You know intimately “whose” you are in Christ and that
allows you to reflect who He is to others.
Our church body is so very blessed by your army of health professionals who understand that you
are a “continuation” of the love and care that Christ demonstrated to the needy of Palestine two
thousand years ago. You are a continuation of Christ’s presence of love shown through myriad
saints across the ages of His Church.
Christ’s ministry of healing the sick once and for all demonstrated who He is. As the church
continues in mercy and love toward the needy, she does so as Christ’s own hands and feet, bearing
witness to His love.
The apostle Paul writes: “it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20).
I am thankful that you understand that Jesus is mercy incarnate. As Lutherans, we understand that
the incarnation of Christ—his coming in the flesh to live and die and rise again alongside us—is the
most powerful gift of the Gospel. Christ’s life was continually filled with compassion and
compassionate action, but it was more than just an example for how we are to live and serve. Now
that you have been raised to a new and eternal life in Christ, your vocation of compassion to those
who are sick, lonely and afraid, reflects the compassion of God Himself.
Parish nursing is transcendent work that God has motivated you to do. I am continually awed and
amazed at the way you all do it so selflessly and with professionalism that honors the vocation of
nursing and ultimately honors Christ himself. Thank you to each and every one of you for your gift
of service. Happy birthday to LCMS parish nursing and may we all be blessed with many, many
more years of service!
Your brother in Christ,
Rev. Matthew C. Harrison
LCMS World Relief and Human Care
Childhood Lead Poisoning
What causes lead poisoning?
There are many factors that contribute to lead poisoning in children, but the most significant is how much lead is taken into the child's body. The most common source of lead in our home environment is old leaded paint. Most homes built before 1960 have lead paint on the windows, doors, trim and walls. Some houses built since then can still contain significant lead hazards. This paint becomes a problem when it gets old, breaks down, or is disturbed by construction or demolition. Lead dust and lead chips present a large danger to young children. Other sources of lead include soil, water, and leaded items accessible to the child (products including some types of mini-blinds, pottery, cosmetics, toys, traditional medicines, imported canned food, batteries, and plumbing have been found to contain lead).
Why is lead a problem?
Lead is a toxic metal that can cause serious health problems if the levels get high enough. In young children (especially those under 6 years old), lead can disrupt the normal development of the brain and nerves, resulting in serious neurological impairment and slowed intellectual development. At high enough levels, lead can cause problems with your kidneys and blood cells, coma, convulsions, and death, even in adults.
How can I find out if my child has (children have) been exposed to lead?
Most children with lead poisoning have no obvious symptoms while they are being poisoned. The only way to know if a child has lead poisoning is for them to have a blood test.
How can I protect my family from lead hazards in my dwelling?
- Keep areas where children play clean and dust free. Wet dust, mop, and wash items and areas in a soapy / detergent solution regularly. Have children wash their hands often, especially before eating.
- Leave lead-based paint that is in good condition alone. Sanding, scraping and burning off lead paint can produce severe hazards. Repair and seal areas where paint is peeling, chipping, or cracking.
- Do not try to remove lead paint on your own. Bring in professionals who know how to contain and clean up lead hazards to do the job properly.
- Do not bring lead dust into your home. If you work in an industry that involves lead, change clothes before entering your home, and wash work clothes professionally where it will not contaminate the family laundry.
- Use only the cold water supply for water used in cooking, drinking, and making beverages. Flush the water from the line until the water feels cold to the touch.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes healthy levels of calcium and iron. Proper nutrition will play a role in helping to block the absorption of lead if your child does ingest it.
Is more information available?
If Nassau County residents have additional questions or concerns regarding Lead in their dwelling, they can call the NC Department of Health – Residential Environment Unit at 516-227-9415.
For additional information on lead, please visit the following web site(s):
US Environmental Protection Agency
American Lung Association
US Centers for Disease Control
Blood Pressure Screening
Holy Trinity Lutheran, Middle Island held a blood pressure screening on July 18 from 9am to 2pm. This was open to the community. Information on other issues were also be available.
Last month we had a diabetes educator speak to a group about diet. The newest information the group learned was to look for at least 5g of fiber in a food serving. Alpha Lipoic acid for prevention and treatment of peripheral neuropathy was also new information for our group. Members were inspired and I saw people trying to follow healthier choices for their meals the very next day! This was awesome! Glory to God for His Love and Guidance Always! Joan Nathan
The following is a note from a Parish Nurse in Minnesota.
I have included the link to this program under "Other links!" You will see this on your right!
We have an active Prayer Shawl mission group here at St Paul, and have sent
out shawls to many people in many churches by request. One of them, a
personal; friend of my family, has started a group of the same at her RC
church in Delaware.
The blessings continue !
From Marcia Schnorr-Parish Nurse Leader
Hello, I just want to let you all know that Raida is getting excited about her return trip to the USA. A lot has happened since her first trip. She has completed the educational program and is entitled to use "FCN". Her ministry has grown from serving 14 to serving over 500...from serving only Christians to serving Christians and Muslims...to being the only nurse to having a 2-3 part time nurses (not parish nurses) who work with her.
She has prepared a presentation for the Concordia Conference that somehow got lost and was not on the advanced registration fdorms--b ut will be on the program schedule. She will be attending the rep meeting...and for those of you staying at the baymont, she will be at a gathering hosted by NID from 7-8 that allows for some informal sharing.
I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to meet with her.
20th ANNIVERSARY GREETING from President Kiesnick
Parish Nurse Conference Video Greetings * May 28, 2009
Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world and Lord of the universe, through whom alone we receive forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation!
Dear friends in Christ.
As much as I’d like to be in Wisconsin to extend my personal greetings to you at the Concordia Conference for Parish Nurses, I’ll have to settle for greeting you from St. Louis, the home base of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
I’m honored and privileged that you would give me a few moments to allow this video greeting, especially during this milestone year in the history of LCMS Parish Nursing. What began 20 years ago with six known parish nurses has now expanded to at least 1000 parish nurses serving in full-time, part-time and volunteer positions across the Synod in various aspects of health ministries.
Such ministries of health and healing have a noted history in the Holy Scriptures. From simple commands to wash in the Jordan to the gentle touch of Jesus’ robe, God has blessed ministries of care and compassion. From the miraculous to the sublime, His healing presence has been made known through His people and reveals to us a glimpse of the heart of God.
The areas of ministry in which you serve are vital to the heartbeat of our churches and our culture. The hands of those who care with kindness and compassion bring life to their recipients. The impact you have on people in this manner are often far reaching – beyond the boundaries of your congregations, into the communities where you live and, at times, as servants in a global mission setting.
The integration of faith and health in the various services you provide, like health education, health counseling, and support for care-givers and volunteers, set apart the service you perform from that which one could receive at a neighborhood clinic. The ingredient of Christ brings wholeness to one’s being and holiness to the life issues we all face.
I know that sometimes the duties you perform are thankless. There are times when preparation and effort go unrecognized. But I want to tell you today – from the bottom of my heart – “Thank you for all that you do in service to our Lord and for The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.” You are a blessing to our church and to the kingdom of God.
Before I close, I am going to share with you my official proclamation on the occasion this 20th anniversary declaring this day, the 28th of May 2009 as LCMS Parish Nursing Day in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The proclamation reads:
Whereas, In grateful response to God's grace and empowered by the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacraments, the mission of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and the world, and,
Whereas, Congregations and agencies of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod carry out the mission of our Lord in many ways, including through the ministries of health and healing in church, community, and the world, and,
Whereas, Parish nurses have provided unselfish and dedicated service in health and healing ministries of the LCMS exhibiting the care and compassion taught and modeled by our Lord Jesus Christ, and,
Whereas, The year of 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of LCMS Parish Nursing, upon which we give thanks to God for the ministry of parish nurses and remember the words of Christ, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me,” (Matthew 25:40, ESV). Therefore, be it
Resolved, That May 28, 2009, be officially proclaimed as National LCMS Parish Nursing Day in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, with the prayer for God’s rich blessings on the parish nurse ministries of our Synod, past, present and future.
This proclamation expresses only a small portion of my gratitude, and the gratitude of the Synod, for you and your service. It is my prayer that the Lord Jesus will bless your conference and your continued ministry in His holy name.
God bless you all in Christ Jesus.
Welcome to the World!
HELP! Referral Sites:
Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence 516-747-2606
Long Island Crisis Center 516-679-1111
Narcotics Anonymous 516-827-9500
Response of Suffolk 631-751-7500
State office of Alcoholism and Sub. Abuse Services 877-HOPENY
Parish Nurse New York Blog
LOOKING OUT FOR MY FRIENDS!
Where will your walk with God take you today?
The greatest thing about stretching is that you lift your hands up to God! Ask Him to guide you in your day. Get the blood flowing: your blood has been redeemed by His! Have joy today!
Purpose in Life-live longer?
Have a Purpose in Life? You Might Live Longer
TUESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- If you have a purpose in life -- lofty or not -- you'll live longer, a new study shows.
It doesn't seem to matter much what the purpose is, or whether the purpose involves a goal that's ambitious or modest.
"It can be anything -- from wanting to accomplish a goal in life, to achieving something in a volunteer organization, to as little as reading a series of books," said study author Dr. Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center and an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
"We found that people who reported a greater level of purpose in life were substantially less likely to die over the follow-up period -- only about half as likely to die over the follow-up period -- as compared to people with a lower level of purpose," Boyle said. The follow-up period averaged nearly three years.
Boyle and her colleagues studied 1,238 older adults already participating in two ongoing research studies at Rush, the Rush Memory and Aging Project and the Minority Aging Research Study. The participants were all dementia-free when the study began and averaged 78 years old.
At the start of the study, the participants answered questions about their purpose in life, rating themselves on different areas meant to measure the tendency to derive meaning from life and to feel that one is working toward goals.
The average score on the sense-of-purpose evaluation was 3.7 of a possible 5, Boyle said.
When comparing scores, Boyle found that those with a higher sense of purpose had about half the risk of dying during the follow-up period as did those with a lower sense of purpose. And that was true, she said, even after controlling for such factors as depressive symptoms, chronic medical conditions and disability.
"What this is saying is, if you find purpose in life, if you find your life is meaningful and if you have goal-directed behavior, you are likely to live longer," she said.
Though much other research has found that having a purpose in life is crucial to maintaining psychological wellness and can be important for physical health as well, Boyle said she believes the new study is one of the first large-scale investigations to examine the link between life purpose and longevity.
The finding follows another recent study, done by others, in which the researchers found that retirees older than 65 who volunteered had less than half the risk of dying during about a four-year follow-up period as did their peers who did not volunteer their time.
What's the link? Boyle can't say for sure. But it could be that having a greater sense of purpose helps multiple systems of the body function better, conferring protection in the face of illness.
The findings make sense to Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. He said he often sees the effects of not having a purpose among older patients. "I see a number of people who have lost that purpose," he said. "Their health declines."
Still, he said, ''it's not clear there is cause and effect" between a sense of purpose and longevity. Perhaps the longevity could be explained by another variable the researchers did not examine, he said.
Boyle said that in future research they hope to find out if people can be inspired to have purpose in life, perhaps by being taught to set goals and work toward them.
The U.S. Corporation for National and Community Service has more about the benefits of volunteering
Barriers to Est...
5/19/2013 10:46:30 AM