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USC: Active social, spiritual and physical life helps prevent health decline in seniors
Date:6/8/2011

ree times a week utterly abhorrentso much so that, no matter what good intentions they have, they will not wind up going. For such individuals, a more effective and longer-lasting strategy to improve physical health may be to instead walk for an hour around their neighborhood in the evenings.

The occupational therapists also provided guidance for using public transportation, getting the participants off of the couch and out into the world.

"You're able to go to a museum, you're able to go to a park it can open up a whole world of opportunities," Clark said. In one instance, the therapists helped a woman who had taken a nasty fall while boarding a bus to work up enough confidence to ride again. Eventually, she was able to take the bus to go do volunteer worka fulfilling pastime that she had sorely missed, Clark said.

"Being engaged in a social life has a positive effect on health," she said, "but the public is not sufficiently aware of how key this is to successful aging."

The older adult participants were described as "well" because they were living in the community, not in a skilled nursing facility or other institutional setting.

To determine the results of the trial, quality of life was measured using a variety of indicators, including physical health, mental health, social well-being and life satisfaction. The program participants were compared to a control group that did not receive the intervention.

Though the two groups started out roughly equivalent, the intervention group showed significant improvement in lessening bodily pain and depression while improving vitality, social function, mental health and overall life satisfaction.

Lesser, though still measurable, gains were made in general health and physical abilities.

At the end of the first phase of the trial, the control group was provided with the same treatment that had been given to the intervention groupand made identical pro
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Contact: Robert Perkins
perkinsr@usc.edu
213-740-9226
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

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