According to research conducted at Rush University Medical Center, higher levels of social activity are associated with a decreased risk of becoming disabled. The study has just been posted online and will be published in the April issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.
"Social activity has long been recognized as an essential component of healthy aging, but now we have strong evidence that it is also related to better everyday functioning and less disability in old age," said lead researcher Bryan James, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the epidemiology of aging and dementia in the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center. "The findings are exciting because social activity is potentially a risk factor that can be modified to help older adults avoid the burdens of disability."
The study included 954 older adults with a mean age of 82 who are participating in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, an ongoing longitudinal study of common chronic conditions of aging. At the start of the investigation, none of the participants had any form of disability. They each underwent yearly evaluations that included a medical history and neurological and neuropsychological tests.
Social activity was measured based on a questionnaire that assessed whether, and how often, participants went to restaurants, sporting events or the teletract (off-track betting) or played bingo; went on day trips or overnight trips; did volunteer work; visited relatives or friends; participated in groups such as the Knights of Columbus; or attended religious services.
To assess disability, participants were asked whether they could perform six activities of daily living without help: feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring and walking across a small room. They were also asked whether they could perform three tasks that require mobility and strength: walking up and down a flight of stairs, walking a half mile and doing heavy housework. Finally, they were asked about their ability to perform what are referred to as "instrumental" activities of daily living, such as using the telephone, preparing meals and managing medications. Difficulties with household management and mobility are more common and represent less severe disability than difficulty with self-care tasks, so the measures represented a range of disability.
Results showed that a person who reported a high level of social activity was about twice as likely to remain free of a disability involving activities of daily living than a person with a low level of social activity, and about 1.5 times as likely to remain free of disability involving instrumental activities of daily living or mobility.
Why social activity plays a role in the development of disability is not clear, James said. Possibly, social activity may reinforce the neural networks and musculoskeletal function required to maintain functional independence.
Future research is needed to determine whether interventions aimed at increasing late-life social activity can play a part in delaying or preventing disability, James said.
Other researchers at Rush involved in the study were Patricia Boyle, PhD, Dr. Aron Buchman and Dr. David Bennett.
Rush is a not-for-profit academic medical center comprising Rush University Medical Center, Rush University, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Health.
Rush is currently constructing a 14-floor, 806,000-square-foot hospital building near the corner of Ashland Avenue and the Eisenhower Expressway. The new hospital, scheduled to open in 2012, is the centerpiece of a $1 billion, ten-year campus redevelopment plan called the Rush Transformation, which also includes completion of a new orthopedics building, a new parking garage and central power plant, renovations of selected existing buildings and demolition of obsolete buildings. In January, Rush opened the new Rush University Cancer Center in completely renovated facilities in its Professional Buildings. The new hospital is designed and built to conserve energy and water, reduce waste and use sustainable building materials. Rush is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It will be the first full-service, "green" hospital in Chicago.
Rush's mission is to provide the best possible care for its patients. Educating tomorrow's health care professional, researching new and more advanced treatment options, transforming its facilities and investing in new technologies—all are undertaken with the drive to improve patient care now, and for the future.
Sharon Butler | EurekAlert!
Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences
23.02.2017 | Life Sciences