As the human race continues to defy chronological aging in due part to medical advancements, an overarching goal for the older adult population and researchers is to determine how to promote aging well. Cognitive functioning is a heavily researched area due to the exponentially increasing number of older adults experiencing cognitive decline. Preservation of cognitive functioning is one aspect of aging well. Three domains of cognition that have shown to be particularly sensitive to the effects of aging are memory, executive functioning, and processing speed. The aims of this current study are: (i) to provide supporting evidence for research that has shown a significant relationship between mental and physical health and cognitive functioning, (ii) to provide preliminary evidence that shows a relationship between mental and physical health and life purpose, and (iii) to examine the relationship between life purpose and cognitive functioning. Participants were 220 community-dwelling healthy older adults. Results showed that life purpose moderates the relationship between mental health and cognitive functioning, such that those who endorsed more mental health issues performed better on tasks of processing speed when they endorsed a higher sense of life purpose versus those who endorsed more mental health issues and a lower sense of life purpose (p < .05). There were no other significant predictors for memory, executive functioning, or processing speed. Future research should continue to evaluate the value life purpose has on cognitive functioning and aging well, along with what other factors predict preservation of cognitive functioning in order to promote living well in late life.

LLU Discipline





School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Aréchiga, Adam L.

Second Advisor

Ballinger, Rebecca E.

Third Advisor

Lee, Grace J.

Fourth Advisor

Vermeersch, David A.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Aging; Older people -- Mental health; Cognition -- Age factors; Executive functions (Neuropsychology)

Subject - Local

Cognitive Functioning; Healthy Aging



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives