Thanksgiving family gatherings provide a precious opportunity to be with loved ones and/but also to monitor the memory cells of those who are aging. There seem to be few families in a community like Beth El that are not affected by Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia, ailments which are not far from the thoughts and worries of too many of us.
I read an excerpt from the Archives of General Psychiatry that talked about ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. One of the ways jumped out at me – to have a purpose in life. A study at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago found that people who had a purpose in life were 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. More specifically, the researchers found that people who responded positively to the following statements were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment – “I feel good when I think of what I have done in the past and what I hope to do in the future” and “I have a sense of direction and purpose in life.”
If you cannot genuinely agree with the above statements, there are things you can do to change that – in fact, you even can change the way you feel about your past. That takes a bit of resolve, some action, and perhaps help from a qualified mental health counselor. But looking forward, you can think about and make a list of some activities that would make your life more meaningful. Ask yourself, “Am I doing these?” and then write down small, realistic goals that will involve you more in these activities, things like volunteering at a nearby hospital or signing up for a class at one of our community colleges next semester.
For some, retirement will be the first time you have felt without a purpose. For others, work can be “just a job” and not provide meaning. Stay at home parents can feel this way when the kids are at school most of the day. In any of these cases, don’t wait too long, think far ahead and act now.
On Monday I was lucky to attend the 14th annual Women to Watch program of JWI. It was a great program, co-chaired by our own Sharon Zissman. I was exhausted from shepping so much naches from the accomplishments of the amazing women being honored, especially our own Liz Schrayer. I happened to be talking with a woman sitting nearby who looked up at the dais and suddenly said, “I have to find something new to do.” As we talked, it was clear that she saw the fruits of the labors of the honorees and knew it was time for her to take on a new task that would give meaning to her life.
Ponder this and have a great Wednesday. Bill Rudolph
P.S. Lots going on in mid December. Tonight is the meeting re: our spring Israel Mission. Tomorrow night is Jews and Brews. Friday night it’s the monthly Kol Haneshama service. Israel Media Series “Shtisel” Saturday night. Sunday the super Israel program begins at 10:30AM and the Ramah Day Camp Open house is 2-4PM at our campsite in Germantown (11301 Neelsville Church Road.) Exact information can be found on the Tuesday listserv or on our website www.bethelmc.org where you can also find a picture of “our” bus and my newly posted sermon on sexual assault.