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!
New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy